Pakistan envoy seeks increased US pressure on India

Published: February 9, 2015
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Jilani says the drawdown In Afghanistan should not be abrupt and that it should be based on the ground realities of the region. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Jilani says the drawdown In Afghanistan should not be abrupt and that it should be based on the ground realities of the region. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON DC: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Jalil Abbas Jilani said he is optimistic about prospects for peace in Afghanistan after the US pullout, but asserts that the Obama administration should be doing more to foster peace in South Asia and pressurise India to embrace economic and counterterrorism overtures from Islamabad, The Washington Times reported on Monday.

In an exclusive interview with The Washington Times on Friday  — his first major on-the-record session with a US news organisation since assuming ambassadorship in Washington — Jilani said in the past year, Indian leaders showed a “kind of arrogance not to engage,” and  New Delhi has failed to respond to Pakistan’s efforts to create a joint counterterrorism initiative between the neighbouring countries.

While US “cajoling” may open India to take initiative on the matter, Jilani said, the United States’ attention toward India seems to be having the opposite effect by bolstering New Delhi’s confidence to continue ignoring Islamabad.

“If they don’t feel any pressure from any side, obviously they are a big country and they will say, ‘Why should we engage with a smaller country like Pakistan?’” the ambassador said.

Despite his comments on India, the ambassador pressed that Islamabad’s relations with Washington are stronger today than they have been at any other point since May 2011, when dialogue was halted as a result of the secret raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

Supports US pullout plan

Asked whether he is satisfied with the administration’s plan, Jilani responded with a “yes” but added that the situation’s delicateness is part of “ongoing discussions” between Islamabad and Washington and that factors on the ground may change the calculus of the withdrawal.

“We have been saying that the drawdown should not be abrupt. We have been saying that it should be based on the ground realities,” Jilani, who cautioned that too rapid a pullout would add pressure to the Pakistani military in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas already engaged in operation to combat terror in the region.

“To give you one example, when we launched these operations in North Waziristan, which we started in June of last year, we were hoping that there should have been a coordinated response from the Afghan side,” the ambassador said. “Now we are witnessing for the last couple of months that there are coordinated responses.”

“We are hitting these groups on our side and the escape route is Afghanistan,” he said. “Previously they would simply disappear in Afghanistan. Now there is a coordinated response from the Afghan side as well, and there is a coordinated response from the U.S. side as well, which is something which is extremely, I think, beneficial to all the sides.”

Tensions with India

Apart from such developments, the ambassador said, leaders in Pakistan are aware that long-term stability in South Asia will depend on easing friction with India. Relations between the two countries have become strained after reports that Russia approved the sale of heavy attack helicopters to Pakistan — a blow to India given that it the country has been a key buyer of Moscow’s arms.

Jilani said “terrorism is as much a concern to Pakistan as it is to India” and that the time is now for the two nations to “engage in a meaningful fashion rather than getting involved in propaganda against each other.” A breakthrough appeared to be developing in May last year, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepted an invitation to attend Indian Premier Modi’s inauguration ceremony in New Delhi. Calling Sharif’s initiative a “very bold” step, Jilani asserted that the Indian leaders did not reciprocate and never showed up when he invited them to his own inauguration in Islamabad. He added that while in New Delhi, Prime Minister Sharif made a push for diplomacy but was essentially spurned by Indian leaders.

“They were able to agree on the revival of the dialogue process at the level of foreign secretary and for absolutely no rhyme or reason, the foreign secretary dialogue was canceled at the last minute,”  the ambassador said. The ambassador concluded that Washington has “played a very important role in the past in bringing the two countries together.”

“We have reason to believe that the U.S. will continue to play that role,” he said.

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Reader Comments (41)

  • Tyggar
    Feb 9, 2015 - 2:48PM

    obviously they are a big country and they will say, ‘Why should we engage with a smaller country like Pakistan?’”

    US is a bigger country but the thinking is probably the same.Recommend

  • jay1980
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:04PM

    EXACTLY !!!!!! why should India engage with a smaller, less educated , terror infested , culturally different, economically non existent, country like Pakistan ? I think Pakistan should make itself useful. having a nuke dont make u any stronger than even Afghanistan .

    Et this is fair and fact Recommend

  • Agrippa - The Skeptical
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:12PM

    “…the ambassador pressed that Islamabad’s relations with Washington are stronger today than they have been at any other point since May 2011, …”

    Now isn’t that a great yardstick for measurement.
    If one had a measuring scale in May 2011, the relations were headed exponentially south of ‘zero’. There was only one possible direction to go – up.

    The incumbent Ambassador is a modest man of modest means – happy for the little tit-bits he gets. He also suffers from selective amnesia “…and for absolutely no rhyme or reason, the foreign secretary dialogue was canceled at the last minute, … “Recommend

  • indian
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:13PM

    “economic and counterterrorism overtures from Islamabad” my foot..Stop infiltrate terrorists to India first. Recommend

  • Stranger
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:32PM

    Like a school boy complaining about a so called bully to the school principle . Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:39PM

    Message to the Ambassador:
    +++++++++++++++++++++
    1.Pls pay heed to what POTUS said before leaving for India, re Terrorists’ Safe havens and Mumbai Criminals in Pakistan.
    2.Your Boss has already cried hoarse on this theme and failed miserably.
    Same fate awaits you.Recommend

  • Milind
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:39PM

    Most Pakistani commentators were grandstanding when this news item was published

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/834475/modi-likely-to-use-military-force-if-terror-attack-traced-to-pakistan-former-us-diplomat/

    Looks like your leadership has wilted under pressure…Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:43PM

    ” ‘Why should we engage with a smaller country like Pakistan?’””
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++===
    Pakistan is the epicenter of Terror and therefor not small in terms of nuisance capability.
    The entire world deals with Pakistan on that basis.Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:45PM

    ” ‘Why should we engage with a smaller country like Pakistan?’””
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Did u get approval from the COAS to say that?Recommend

  • Afghan
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:54PM

    India is a war loving country. Mr Modi will agree with meRecommend

  • Lion King
    Feb 9, 2015 - 4:55PM

    Why are these people dying to talks with Bharat to resume ?
    What are their ulterior motives??
    Perhaps their business interests with Bhartis…Recommend

  • Lion King
    Feb 9, 2015 - 5:16PM

    @jay1980: Wonder why noisy creatures from quasi superpower (or whatever) swarm the comments section of a newspaper of the less educated, economically non existent blah blah country ????Recommend

  • sergio navarro
    Feb 9, 2015 - 5:53PM

    Indians never leave a chance blaming Pakistan, while it is proved that India is masterminded and main sponsor of terrorism in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan having 21 consulates sponsoring guns and money for terrorists.
    Recently John Kerry mentioned with proofs and reports in house debate that India is continuously engage to damage regional peace.
    I found India always crying like baby and blame game use.
    Though she even try to engage Pakistan army on borders when they are at clean up operation.
    It is well proven, you cant make world fool by media its open and India been told by Obama to stop the border fire.
    Too many blames against Pakistan but India has rapes in fact gang rapes,killing, security Naxalism, freedom fighters in Punjab and south region.
    Poverty is on streets but India mad to buy warships and ammunition. recently 4 billion is aid given by Obama in its begging Bowl and loans.
    Even PM Modi himself a mass murder and wanted in many US states under terrorism and losing control of its racist power in recently New Delhi poll.Recommend

  • JSM
    Feb 9, 2015 - 6:00PM

    @Afghan:
    You are wrong sir. Never in its history has India gone to conquer foreign lands. Even the so called Indo-Pakistan wars were started by Pakistan- please read independent reports.If you are unhappy with the way India is behaving, why do you not carry out punishment strikes against Indians. You are a warrior nation. You have nukes.
    Moderator- there is nothing impolite in my post- kindly publish it.Recommend

  • Rakib
    Feb 9, 2015 - 6:03PM

    @Lion King: Reg your questions, IMO:- Irrespective of what impact it may have in the short run on current US Admin, constant repetition, like the story here, by Pak may embarrass India among the fora that matter. Intention is to show Pakistan as a peace loving country that believes in negotiated settlement & to show up India as an unreasonable, surly bully that sulks on small issues & stops talking like a school kid. (Reality may be quite different though!!) Modi’s own ploy was calculated at putting an end to importance given by Pak to Hurriyat & if he had won elections in Valley he might have succeeded. Now he has no choice but to work with suspected semi-secessionists, even if indirectly. For the sake of his domestic fan-club Modi can’t afford a public climb down from his position. He will probably look for a face saving formula & Nawaz may even help him in that endeavour in the larger interests of all!. Though there are other commercial considerations to influence US/EU, purely diplomatically Pakistan is on better wicket on the specific issue of talks between neighbours..Recommend

  • Rahul
    Feb 9, 2015 - 6:28PM

    Maybe Mr. Jilani should start by explaining why JuD is still not banned. Could it be that the Good Terrorist-Bad Terrorist narrative is still alive post Peshawar APS?Recommend

  • someone
    Feb 9, 2015 - 7:09PM

    @sergio navarro:
    Is it a national pastime in Pakistan to remain ignorant? Does Afghanistan even have 21 “Cities” to host a consulate? By the way what proof does John Kerry has ? A DVD of WAAR? Is it not your ambassador, NSA, PM, COAS crying and running pillar to post from US to UK to China to ask them to pressure India for talks? Are there no rapes in Pakistan? No poverty? No insurgencies? By the way Khalistan movement was crushed years ago. Seems like you have woken up after a long slumber. I suggest to read latest news to catch up uncle.Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Feb 9, 2015 - 8:21PM

    USA is, indeed the big fat uncle.Recommend

  • Alfa Romeo
    Feb 9, 2015 - 9:16PM

    Why beg and plead for talks with India? The Americans must be giggling..Recommend

  • ModiFied
    Feb 9, 2015 - 9:30PM

    USA can not be pressured through paid news paper interviews. Envoy will have to work much harder to put pressure on USA. Recommend

  • Rex Major
    Feb 9, 2015 - 9:43PM

    @ Sergio Navarro:

    Seeing the quality of your rant, you couldn’t have chosen a better moniker.
    Did you also play football?
    Perhaps you did a header too many?

    You have heard a lot of canards and rumours, have not understood the most of them and have regurgitated them here.
    – 21 Consulates in Afghanistan? Why only 21, 45 is a bigger number!
    – Kerry mentioned what in which house debate? You attended it? Did you see anyone else
    there?
    – World media heard Obama told India to stop border fire? Does all this play in your head?
    What do you smoke? Which drugs do you take?

    The list goes on and on.
    You do give the correct picture of what is wrong with your country. Recommend

  • Agrippa - The Skeptic
    Feb 9, 2015 - 10:11PM

    @ Rakib:
    “Pakistan is on better wicket on the specific issue of talks between neighbours..”

    Unfortunately for you – Realpolitik does not depend on the condition of the wicket.
    Pakistan may claim the moral high ground but to use another cliche’ Pakistan has cried Wolf too many times and the World, including the US, know about it.

    What amazes me though is, on the one hand Sartaj Aziz thunders “India will have to make the first move” and on the other the Ambassador to US goes “Tell them to talk to us – no?”

    Isn’t Aziz the special designated advisor on Foreign Affairs to the PM?
    Who manages Foreign Policy in Pakistan? All and sundry?

    Whose word is to be believed?Recommend

  • Agrippa - The Skeptic
    Feb 9, 2015 - 10:15PM

    @ Lion King:
    “@jay1980: Wonder why noisy creatures from quasi superpower (or whatever) swarm the comments section of a newspaper of the less educated, economically non existent blah blah country ????”

    And you really can’t guess why?
    You write about a country and don’t expect to be swamped by the ‘noisy creatures’ inhabiting the country?
    How naive! Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 9, 2015 - 10:45PM

    ET mods – everything is factual. Please publish.

    ““If they don’t feel any pressure from any side, obviously they are a big country and they will say, ‘Why should we engage with a smaller country like Pakistan?’” the ambassador said.”

    Which is the first country that Modi visited L Bhutan. He has also visited Nepal and Myanmar. Sushma Swaraj has additionally visited Bangladesh. The Sri Lankan Premier’s first visit is going to be to India. So India DOES engage construcively with neighbouring countries much smaller than Pakistan.

    “He added that while in New Delhi, Prime Minister Sharif made a push for diplomacy but was essentially spurned by Indian leaders.”

    Factually incorrect. A foreign secretary leel meeting had been set up. It was cancelled due to ill conceived decision of Islamabad to ignore Delhi’s advice to not meet Hurriyat in Delhi.

    “but asserts that the Obama administration should be doing more to foster peace in South Asia and pressurise India to embrace economic and counterterrorism overtures from Islamabad”

    Whenever trade and visa discussions moved forward, Pakistan army saotaged them. This happened in Jan 2013, August 2013 and April 2014. So India does not take Pakistani civilians at face value on the issue of trade any more. Pakistan talking about co-operation on counterterrorism is a joke when the government facilitated JuD who is banned by UN to hold jalsas in Lahore. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.

    “Jilani said in the past year, Indian leaders showed a “kind of arrogance not to engage,” ”

    That is not due to arrogance by India but rather by Pakistan. Despite a clear choice of ‘neotiate with us or Hurriyat’, Pakistan chose to talk to Hurriyat. It was arrogant and assumed India could not afgord to stop talks. If India were arrogant, why would it make so many overtures to Nepal, Bhutan, Banladesh, Sri Lanka etc.?Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 9, 2015 - 10:55PM

    @Rakib:
    Modi has never said that he would not talk with Kashmiri insurgents. He did talk o Sajjad Lone isn’t it? His point was thatspeaking to Indian insurgents is job of India. Pakistan speaking to them is unacceptable. Indo not think results of Kashmir elections changes that situation.

    Secondly, if statingthe same thing repeatedly would have an effect, then please tell me what Pakistanis reiteratingthe same stand on Kashmir has done. Who has it influenced? In any case India is engaged in very constructive negotiations with countries much smaller than Pakistan e.g. Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh. So no conclusions about hegemonybwould be drawn by decision to ignore Pakistan when the reason for doing so was fairly clear. India will talk to Pakistan if Pakistan agrees to stop talking to Hurriyat and stops ceasefire violations. If those 2 conditions are not met, talks will not occur.Recommend

  • Np
    Feb 9, 2015 - 11:02PM

    Totally bizarre. Just the other day Sartaj Aziz was feigning indifference and saying the ball is in India’s court and it is upto India to restart the talks and now this whining to US to make India talk.

    Even if US wanted o, which there is no reason really, it knows it does ot have the leverage. It knows exactly what happened o US initiative of appointing Hollbrooke as Kashmir envoy in 2009.Recommend

  • Abdul Malik
    Feb 10, 2015 - 12:14AM

    @sergio navarro:
    So sue us in ICJ need the address ?Recommend

  • Sid
    Feb 10, 2015 - 1:17AM

    Inept Pakistan runs behind every government in world to “pressurize” India. This is the only thing Pakistan knows, to use force or pressure, not diplomacy and talks. The only people they are willing to talk with are terrorists and separatists.
    The title by ET is hyper mis leading or the minister is incredibly falsifying public impression by making statement like “increasing pressure”……which pressure bhai ? There is no pressure from USA on India which India cares or heeds to. India is not Pakistan. And stop begging every country to do for you what you can’t do yourself. Unless no shame or dignity left.Recommend

  • Sid
    Feb 10, 2015 - 1:20AM

    Why does everybody in Pakistan feels entitled that India should engage with it ? We are living our life, leave us and live your life. The only impression you are giving here is that Pakistan will perish if India does not engage with it.Recommend

  • Milind Dave
    Feb 10, 2015 - 2:01AM

    Why should USA pressurized India for talk ? is USA policy maker is sane who listen you where you do not want any action against your non state actor who are playing anti India card and doing terror attack in India did they do not know what your country policy makers are doing do USA afford to loose big market in India so in nutshell change your policy build trust and take confidence measure step so India feel really you are serious for any kind of engagement otherwise if you talk on UN forum it has no impact and for your information during recent meeting with us president there was no any kind of discussion on Pakistan but your media published that Obama tell modi for talk so be practical and introspect within you and decide as your can not do any significant change in south asia politics and even not peace process you can derailed ,it is your so called myth that for peace and stable south asia India should engage on Kashmir Recommend

  • Wizarat
    Feb 10, 2015 - 3:30AM

    Pakistan needs to get its house in order before asking others for help and assistance.

    Just imagine 50 years ago Pakistan was a preferred nation against India for the West and it was not just the cold war scenario, but actually Pakistan was more viable as a nation than India. But after Ayub Khan and the commencement of Bhuttoism (which I supported- and now consider a mistake) in Pakistan – the slide of Pakistan has not stopped and it is still going downhill. Pakistan use to have a lot of intellectuals, mow the only intellectuals who are allowed to express their opinion are the ones who have no formal education but is leading the prayers in most Mosques.

    Religion of Islam, a peace loving religion and which is considered an ilm doost religion has been hijacked by illiterates of various sects.
    It is time that minimum educational requirements are mandated for being a cleric in any Mosques as that is where the society seemed to be getting its marching orders.

    Sometimes back Malik Zafrullah who was 16 at the time of creation of Pakistan mentioned in a program, “Nairangiay siasat-e-doraan to dekhiay
    Manzil unhain mili jo shareek-e-safar na thayRecommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Feb 10, 2015 - 3:43AM

    @sergio navarro:
    All should note that @sergio cannot provide the Afghan city locations of those imaginary “21 Indian Consulates” that he hallucinates about!!!Recommend

  • Sid
    Feb 10, 2015 - 5:12AM

    @sergio navarro:
    ” India been told by Obama to stop the border fire”…….really ? and who told you that ? I am pretty sure Obama himself. And am very sure you are not aware of the message Obama’s message to Pakistan that it has to root all forms of terrorists group from Pakistan including one which harms it’s neighbors. Recommend

  • Ilm dost
    Feb 10, 2015 - 5:46AM

    @Wizarat:
    Why did the followers of the ilm dost religion destroy the library of Alexandria?Recommend

  • Ilm dost
    Feb 10, 2015 - 5:54AM

    @sergio navarro:
    Silly man. There are exactly 4 Indian consulates in Afghanistan and that too in the exact same cities that Pakistan has its consulates. Only 2 of these 4 are near the Pakistan border.Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 10, 2015 - 6:12AM

    @sergio navarro:
    “Recently John Kerry mentioned with proofs and reports in house debate that India is continuously engage to damage regional peace.”

    Kerry is a Senator from Masachussets. He is not even a member of House of Representatives and could nit have aken par in any House debates. In any case please provide reference to this supposed proof and report of India being involved in damaging regional peace. You cannot because he never said any such thing. Yes there was a report to Senate by US Department of Defense which indicated that Pakistan supports proxies against India and Afghanistan. http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/pentagon-pakistan-uses-proxy-forces-in-india-and-afghanistan/

    “you cant make world fool by media its open and India been told by Obama to stop the border fire”

    Please provide any independent reference to this statement. Obama did say in an interview with India Today that he wants those responsible for 26/11 to be held accountable. http://www.dawn.com/news/1159070

    “while it is proved that India is masterminded and main sponsor of terrorism in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan having 21 consulates sponsoring guns and money for terrorists.”

    Proved? How because you saw Waar?also any country’s consulates cannot be hidden. They have to be listed. India has onky 4 consulates and that too in the exact same cities that Pakistan has. If you are saying there are 21, please list the cities where they are present.Recommend

  • Rakib
    Feb 10, 2015 - 6:47AM

    @Gp65: It was my opinion that the repetitiveness was well calculated to embarrass India, to show up Modi in bad light (or, correct light from Pak pov). Talk is not the immediate aim; highlighting of Indian intransigence is the intention. Limited objective, aimed at with limited resources. It can’t be ambitious since commercial priorities of Obama outweigh much. (b) After his father’s assassination Sajjad Lone became a success story of Indian democracy & in his political evolution the then CM-Gujarat’s contribution was nebulous. Modi “spoke” to Sajjad Lone as a BJP leader. As head of People’s Conference Lone had already split from Hurriyat & BJP needed his support in Assembly if he won couple of seats Modi has no use for Sajjad’s brother Billal, an executive committee member of Hurriyat.Recommend

  • Agrippa - The Skeptic
    Feb 10, 2015 - 2:12PM

    @ Rakib:

    “@Gp65: It was my opinion that the repetitiveness was well calculated to embarrass India, to show up Modi in bad light (or, correct light from Pak pov). Talk is not the immediate aim; highlighting of Indian intransigence is the intention. Limited objective, aimed at with limited resources. … “

    If that indeed is the Pakistani intention, aren’t they a tad too naive?
    Kerry puh-puhed the questions in Islamabad with “there are a lot of assumptions”.
    The supposedly handed dossiers did not come to fruition, check Obama’s interview to India Today.

    Pakistan has lost a lot of credibility over the years.
    But due credit to Mr. jilani – he is doing the best he can with the modest means at his disposal. Recommend

  • Asok
    Feb 11, 2015 - 2:33AM

    Dehati Aurat going crying to the village chief.Recommend

  • BlackHat
    Feb 11, 2015 - 8:02AM

    Or, may be it is amreecan plan to make bhartis heat up eastern border so that they can very well slip out of Afghanistan quietly. But that plan not work. Pak Fauj is looking both ways. Sweet friend is looking from mountain top and also from bottom of sea, next to gawadar.Recommend

  • Rakib
    Feb 11, 2015 - 9:10AM

    @Agrippa – The Skeptic: On a different but related note:-India-Pak have often chosen the way of confrontation even while actually looking for peace. Agrippa says the following in “Antony & Cleopatra:: “And strange it is, That nature must compel us to lament; Our most persisted deeds”. (It’s strange that human nature makes us grieve for the very thing we’ve been trying to achieve.) That grief on path to peace is our collective tragedy & matters little who is more at fault. To a question on whether Indo-Pak talks must resume, be it conditionally or otherwise, there shan’t be two opinions among other countries.. Modi with his Gujarati business instincts knows the value of relationship with neighbours. Not too difficult it is really for him to sort matters out.Recommend

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