India on Friday welcomed a joint pledge by the United States and Pakistan to fight militant groups, but has categorically ruled out any third-party mediation to end the long-simmering dispute over Kashmir.
Although the Indian foreign ministry reverted to accusing Pakistan of ‘sponsoring terrorism’, New Delhi’s tough rhetoric did not preclude the possible resumption of peace talks that were derailed by recent tensions.
“India has always desired resolution of all issues with Pakistan bilaterally through dialogue and peaceful means,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup told a news briefing in New Delhi.
At talks in Washington on Thursday, US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged “to promote peace and stability throughout the region and to counter all forms of extremism and terrorism.”
For the first time, Pakistan committed to take “effective action” against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), an Islamic militant group that India blames for an attack by suicide commandos on Mumbai in 2008 in which 166 people died.
The joint statement also named, among other groups, the Haqqani Network that is believed to be responsible for an attack on Indian embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul in the same year.
“This is the first time that Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani Network have been specifically mentioned in a US-Pakistan joint statement,” said Swarup. “We would naturally hope that they deliver on these commitments.”
An agreement to revive peace talks between the nuclear-armed neighbours – that have fought two of their three wars since independence over Kashmir – was reached between Prime Minister Nawaz and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Russia in July.
But escalating tensions over Kashmir, which both countries claim in full but rule only in part, derailed plans for the national security advisers of both countries to hold talks on containing terrorism.
Just before travelling to the United States, the PM Nawaz named former Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Nasser Khan Janjua as his new national security adviser. Reacting, Swarup said that India ‘remains open’ to holding talks between the two countries’ national security advisers.