America has backed India’s right to defend itself against cross-border terrorism in the aftermath of Thursday’s terror attack in Pulwama, even as the two sides pledged to cooperate to eradicate terrorist safe havens in Pakistan.
The American support was conveyed during a phone conversation between National Security Advisor, John Bolton, and Ajit Doval, on Friday, which was initiated by the US side, said the external affairs ministry in a readout on Saturday.
In a tweet on Saturday, Bolton added: “Pakistan must crack down on JeM and all terrorists operating from its territory.”
The readout from the external affairs ministry read: “Ambassador Bolton supported India’s right to self-defence against cross-border terrorism. He offered all assistance to India to bring the perpetrators and backers of the attack promptly to justice.”
Bolton called Doval to “express condolences and outrage” over the JeM suicide attack on one of the busses of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy at Pulwama that killed at least 40 jawans.
“The two NSAs vowed to work together to ensure that Pakistan ceases to be a safe haven for JeM and terrorist groups that target India, the US and others in the region,” the readout added.
Bolton and Doval also “resolved to hold Pakistan to account for its obligations under United Nations resolutions and to remove all obstacles to designating JeM leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 Committee process”.
“I told Ajit Doval… that we support India’s right to self-defence. I have spoken to him twice… and expressed the US’ condolences over the terrorist attack,” Bolton said reported PTI.
He said the US has been very clear on Pakistan ending its support to terrorist safe havens. “And we are continuing to be, in discussions we are going to have with the Pakistanis,” Bolton said.
Soon after the attack, the White House issued a strongly worded statement calling on Pakistan to “end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil”. It also described the terror strike in Pulwama as an attack by a “Pakistan-based terrorist group”.
Bolton’s call to Doval further escalates US support for India to a different level, said an Indian official close to the deliberations, similar to the stance adopted by the US when India carried out its surgical strikes in 2016.
India responded to a strike by a Pakistan-based group on a military base in Uri, Kashmir, with retaliatory surgical strikes the same day that Doval spoke to his then US counterpart, Susan Rice, on September 29, 2016.