Washington: Blowing hot and cold, the US says it expects Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the terrorist attack on an Indian Air Force base and bring the perpetrators to justice, but could not force its pace.
“The Pakistanis said they’re going to investigate, so we look forward to seeing the results of that investigation when it’s complete,” State Department Spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Thursday.
“But as for how long it’s going to take and the scope of it, I think you need to be talking to folks in Islamabad about that,” he said.
Asked if the US had reached out to Pakistan after India named banned terror organisation Jaish-e-Muhammad and its chief Maulana Masood Azhar as being responsible for the Pathankot attack, Kirby said: “Of course, we’re talking to Pakistan about this”.
But he gave no details of “the specifics of diplomatic discussions” and simply repeated “the Government of Pakistan itself has condemned this attack and made clear that they’re committed to investigate it.”
“So let’s let them do that and let’s see where the investigation goes. We obviously would like to see it investigated too, as completely and as thoroughly as possible, so that we can better understand what happened,” Kirby said.
Taking Islamabad’s statements on face value, the spokesperson said, “The Government of Pakistan has also said that they’re not going to discriminate between terrorist groups as part of its counterterrorism operations.”
Pakistan “knows well the threat of terrorism. is a regional challenge that requires real regional solutions,” he said, “and we want Pakistan to be a part of those solutions.”
Reminded that after the Nov 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack in which six American were killed too, the US had asked Pakistan to act, but to no avail, a defensive Kirby said nobody can look at the US “counterterrorism record over the last decade or so and say we’re not doing anything.”
The countries in the region too could do more, he said “Which is why we continue to encourage bilateral, multilateral efforts in the region to get at this particular threat.”
“The relationship with Pakistan’s complicated, I get that. And we don’t always agree on everything,” he acknowledged.
“And I can’t speak for how long it might take them to complete an investigation or the degree to which they intend to be transparent about it after they’ve completed it.”
“And as for the Mumbai attackers, we’ve said and I’ll say it again today: We obviously want to see all the perpetrators brought to justice,” Kirby said.
“We know that that can take a long time. It took an awful long time to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, but we did. So it can be hard.”
Asked about a former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel’s opinion that Pakistani spy agency ISI was behind the terrorist attack in Pathankot and also in Mazar-e-Sharif, Kirby said he was “not in a position to confirm the veracity of his conclusions.”
The US didn’t “have an independent assessment of who was behind this attack,” he said. “A, it just happened two days ago; B, it’s being investigated by the Pakistanis. They’ve condemned it, we condemned it,” Kirby repeated. “Let’s let their investigation move forward and we’ll see where it goes.”
“It’s not for us to ascribe a timeline to somebody else’s investigation,” Kirby said. “We’ll certainly defer to Pakistani authorities to determine their own timelines and their own deadlines.”
Asked if he believed the Pathankot attack was carried out to derail the peace process between India and Pakistan, Kirby said: “I have no idea what the motivation for that attack would be.”