Islamabad: Pakistan will have to take action against Mumbai attackers and ensure its territory is not used for terrorism against India if it wanted to resume stalled talks with New Delhi, the new US pointsman for South Asia, Robert Blake, has said.
“The first part of that sequencing (resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue) will be for Pakistan to take action against these five Mumbai suspects, to prosecute them,” said Blake, who is assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs.
“And then for the two sides to agree on the ways that India can be sure and Pakistan can be sure that Pakistan’s territory is not being used by these militants group to threaten India, Afghanistan or the US,” Blake told Dawn newspaper in an interview.
The priority for the two countries now was “bringing the five Mumbai suspects to justice and prosecuting those and taking steps to ensure that the territory of Pakistan is not used by militant groups to threaten either the US or India or any other country,” he added.
Emphasising India’s importance in the Obama administration’s new policy for the region, Blake noted that New Delhi was “playing a very important role” in Afghanistan.
He made it clear that America was not willing to play a mediator between India and Pakistan although it had good ties with both. Instead, he encouraged Pakistan to resolve its differences with New Delhi through a bilateral dialogue process.
“On the question of Kashmir, obviously that is something for the two countries to resolve,” said Blake, who has served as deputy chief of mission in New Delhi and ambassador to Colombo.
“But right now the two countries are focused principally on the issue of counter-terrorism,” he said.
Kashmir, he said, was “for the two countries to decide”.
“I think that’s a pretty sensitive issue and I imagine that they will not be prepared to take that up at this particular stage.”
He said Pakistan was America’s highest foreign policy priority and the Obama administration was willing to provide whatever security and economic assistance it needed.