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No evidence against India using Afghan soil against Pakistan: Alice Well

01 May, 2019

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The United States on Tuesday said it does not have the ‘evidence’ suggesting that India is using the Afghan soil to perpetrate terrorism in Pakistan, and that it had no information regarding the Pakistan Army’s latest allegations that Afghan and Indian secret agencies were funding the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM).

“I don’t have the evidence what you’re referring to, but our policy is clear that no country should support non-state actors,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said in response to a question while interacting with a group of journalists at the US Embassy.

The US diplomat, who was in Islamabad as part of a delegation headed by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, was asked about Pakistan’s longstanding allegations against India for sponsoring terrorism from Afghanistan. The statement appears to suggest that the US is far from convinced with Pakistan’s narrative on India.

Pakistan has long been expressing its concerns regarding India using the Afghan soil to create trouble and often presented the case of Indian spy Kulbushan Yadhav as evidence. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor had laid out a charge sheet against the PTM leadership on Monday. One of the allegations leveled against the group was about getting funds from the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).NDS

The US diplomat, nevertheless, made it clear that US would never condone or support any use of “terrorist proxies against another country”. “We have been working very actively with Pakistan to combat whether it’s al Qaeda or TTP. Any terrorist attacking Pakistan is enemy of ours and we share very strong counterterrorism objectives in defeating extremist forces,” Wells emphasised. When her attention was drawn towards Pakistan’s concerns regarding India’s role in creating trouble in Balochistan, she urged regional countries to respect each other’s sovereignty without naming India.

“We recognise and respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan. We do not support any separatist or irredentist movements,” she said, adding, “We think it’s critical that nations of this region respect one another and work to achieve peace and economic growth.”

Wells, who held a series of meetings with civil and military officials in Islamabad, also said the US welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s public statements affirming his resolve not to allow Pakistan’s soil to be used against any other country. “I would positively note that many comments the prime minister has made in public underscoring his government’s commitment to moving away from non-state actors to ensuring that the National Action Plan (NAP) that Pakistan has forged is implemented,” she said. She said the steps the government had so far taken to implement the NAP were ‘positive.’ The government had briefed the diplomatic corps and international community on the detention of leaders of proscribed groups, the seizure of assets and provincial control over some of the physical infrastructure, she noted.

Wells said that under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan, Pakistan had to take specific steps to deal with the terror financing. Ultimately, she said it would not be the US but FATF that would determine the steps taken by Pakistan.

She, nevertheless, added the US appreciated recent steps hoping that would continue until the threat was eliminated. About the prospects of resumption of dialogue between Pakistan and India after the polls are over in the neighbouring country, Wells apparently linked the progress to Pakistan’s commitment to not allowing its territory to be used against India.

She said Pakistan needed to demonstrate its commitment to ensure that “violence is prerogative of the state that the militant groups can’t take advantage of Pakistani soil”. When asked to specify the US concerns regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Wells said while Washington did not object to infrastructure investment by China, the question remained whether such projects met international standards. She argued that such investments should be transparent, sustainable and should produce benefits for the country.

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