Washington: In what can be seen as a clearest indication yet of US support for the cross-LoC surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army on terror camps last month, a senior Obama administration official has said that Washington empathised with New Delhi’s position of responding militarily to cross-border terrorism but called for exercising caution and restraint.
“I think every country has the right to self-defence but I will also highlight that in a heavy militarised relationship like that of India and Pakistan, a relationship that has experienced at least three wars in the past, and the forces along the LoC and the international border are on a high state of alert, there really is a need for caution and prudence on both sides,” Peter Lavoy, Senior Director for South Asia in the US National Security Council, said.
“So, we do understand the very serious concern and tension by the Indian government to this attack, to this horrific attack,” he said in response to a question at the launch of a report on “US-India Security Cooperation: Promise and Progress for the Next Administration” here on Wednesday.
The Indian Army carried out surgical strikes in the early hours of September 29 on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-held Kashmir in which “significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them”.
This came after the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an army camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in which 19 Indian soldiers lost their lives.
India has blamed the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack.
“We share with India a strong commitment to preventing future attacks like this like this from recurring and we are working together and we are working with both the parties in the region internationally to ensure that that’s the case,” Lavoy said.
“We do empathise with the Indians’ perception that they need to respond militarily. But then again I want to highlight our strong interest in seeing caution prevail.”
Describing the Uri attack as “horrific”, Lavoy said that after US National Security Advisor Susan Rice had a conversation with her Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, the White House issued a statement condemning the Uri attack.
“The US and India do indeed have a shared interest in countering terrorism, in protecting our societies from the scourge of terrorism and working together to diminish the ability of terrorist groups to threaten our countries or others around the world,” he stated.
Earlier in his speech at the launch of the report, Lavoy said that “India matters economically like never before”.
“India is the world’s fastest growing major economy and there is significant enthusiasm for our economic relationship in both countries,” stated.
“India matters geographically. India sits at the centre of the Indian Ocean through which 40 percent of the global trade flows. From energy security to counter-piracy, counter-proliferation, we have reason to focus on the Indian Ocean as it is important for our own security.”
Lavoy said that the Obama administration has created the foundation for a strong partnership with India “that I am confident will be sustained for many years to come”.
“So, that foundation is reliable, is sturdy and will stand the next administration. Secondly, each government recognises that our pursuit of our own interests increasingly requires cooperation with each other.” he stated.