Washington: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that Islamabad will take "effective action" against terror groups including the Lashkar-e-Taiba, after talks with US President Barack Obama in Washington.
"The Prime Minister apprised the President about Pakistan's resolve to take effective action against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates as per its international commitments and obligations under UN Security Council resolutions," the two leaders said in a joint statement after meeting at the Oval Office in White House.
The statement is being viewed as a sign of US pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terror groups operating on its soil, like the Lashkar whose members, including chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, have been charged with planning and executing the 26/11 attack in Mumbai. India has lodged repeated protests with Pakistan over the slow pace of trial, saying it has submitted enough evidence to prove that Lakhvi is responsible for its worst-ever terror attack.
"We've been very clear with the Pakistani government that in implementing that commitment, Pakistan must take action against all military groups without discriminating," Eric Schultz, White House Deputy Press Secretary, told reporters after the Obama-Sharif meeting.
The joint statement also referred to the Line of Control which is unlikely to go down well with India. "The two leaders expressed concern over violence along the Line of Control, and noted their support for confidence-building measures and effective mechanisms that are acceptable to both parties," the statement said.
The mention of Kashmir is also likely to annoy New Delhi, even though the US maintains, as it has in the past, that it is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. "The leaders emphasized the importance of a sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbors aimed at resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes, including Kashmir, through peaceful means and working together to address mutual concerns of India and Pakistan regarding terrorism," says the joint statement.
Stressing that Pakistan's relationship with India was critical to its future, the US outlined the need for "normalisation of relations between the two countries" which it said was vital to the "stability in the region".
The Pakistani side has been downcast during PM Sharif's three-day visit to Washington, a markedly different mood since his last visit in 2013. Sources have told NDTV that despite his attempts to raise India concerns in the meeting, be it Kashmir or the Line of Control, President Obama remained firmly focused on Afghanistan and counter-terrorism.