Supporting India's demand that there cannot be any talks with Pakistan while the Imran Khan government continues to support terrorism, the United States on Tuesday said that terrorism continues to be the "chief obstacle" in way of dialogue.
A US official, while talking about the tension between India and Pakistan, referred to the 1972 Simla Agreement and said that Pakistan's continued support to terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that engage in cross-border terrorism has been a major hindrance for dialogue to progress.
"We believe that direct dialogue between India and Pakistan, as outlined in the 1972 Simla Agreement, holds the most potential for reducing tensions," Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells told Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Wells further said that during 2006-2007 backchannel negotiations, India and Pakistan had made significant progress on a number of issues, including the contentious Kashmir situation.
"History shows us what is possible," Wells said in a statement submitted to the Congressional subcommittee on the eve of the hearing "Human Rights in South Asia: Views from the State Department and the Region".
"Restarting a productive bilateral dialogue requires building trust, and the chief obstacle remains Pakistan's continued support for extremist groups that engage in cross-border terrorism," she said.
Last week, the international terror financing watchdog FATF warned Pakistan will be blacklisted if it does not control terror funding by February and also voiced serious concern over the country's failure to deliver on most of its 27 targets.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issued a warning to Pakistan.
The United States, Wells said, welcomes Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent unambiguous statement that terrorists from Pakistan who carry out violence in Kashmir are enemies of both Kashmiris and Pakistan.
"Pakistan's harbouring of terrorist groups like Lashkar-e- Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed, which seek to foment violence across the Line of Control, is destabilising, and Pakistani authorities remain accountable for their actions," she told Pakistan.
"We believe the foundation of any successful dialogue between India and Pakistan is based on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible steps against militants and terrorists in its territory," Wells said.
Both President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have met and spoken with their Indian and Pakistani counterparts multiple times, including at the recent United Nations General Assembly, to encourage dialogue, Wells told the US lawmakers in her statement.
On the other hand, talking about the civil affairs in Pakistan, Wells said that the United States is "deeply concerned" about the human rights violations and cases of discrimination that have surfaced in the country.
She also said that the US hopes that the reforms Pakistan is undertaking under its current IMF plan will lay the foundation for better economic management and growth, leading to an improvement in the democratic system and human rights situation.
The US, Wells said, continues to urge the Pakistani government to uphold the rule of law.