The Trump White House has come down hard on nuclear-armed Pakistan, warning that its actions are unacceptable in the escalating war games with India.
It’s the strongest message yet from the Trump administration as military tension between Pakistan and India threatens to spill over into all-out war.
Speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity, a senior White House official, said:
“The terrorist attack on February 14th on India was a demonstration that Pakistan’s continuing provision of sanctuary for any terrorist group is not acceptable.”
Tensions between nuclear nations Pakistan and India flared on February 14th when a suicide attack killed 46 Indians. Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack.
According to the White House statement, the Pakistani government is not doing enough to throttle terror groups like JeM operating in the region.
The US official outlined that further terrorist attacks against India would be “extremely problematic.” It’s the closest the Trump administration has come to threatening intervention in the conflict.
“We need to see Pakistan taking concrete and sustained action to rein in the terrorist groups, mainly the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba in order to ensure that we don’t have re-escalation (of tensions) in the region.”
The US is deeply entrenched in the region’s conflict. India is a long-term ally of the United States and a key partner in its trade talks with China. Trump reaffirmed his support for India in the wake of the recent terror attack, saying it:
“Strengthens our resolve to bolster counter-terrorism cooperation and coordination between the US and India.”
Meanwhile, Trump has come down hard on Pakistan for harboring terrorists. The US president cut off $1.3 billion in military assistance to Islamabad:
“Pakistan was taking very strong advantage of the US under other Presidents and we were paying Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. I ended that payment to Pakistan because they weren’t helping us in a way that they should have.”
Pakistan continues to provoke concerns after moving “all F-16” fighters to the Indian border this week. The US government official warned Pakistan to do more to de-escalate tensions:
“We clearly need to see more. We need to see irreversible action because in the past, what we’ve seen is [Pakistan] made some arrests and then a few months later, they released these individuals. The terrorist leaders are sometimes still allowed to travel around the country, hold rallies.”
This nuclear standoff is bigger than just India and Pakistan. While the US throws its weight of support behind India, Pakistan recently thanked China for “standing by Pakistan in these difficult times.” A move that prompted the White to respond:
“We don’t really understand this. China should not be shielding Pakistan’s support for known terrorist organizations.”
One thing’s for sure, this nuclear standoff isn’t over and the world’s biggest superpowers are also bearing their teeth.