Washington: Reminding Islamabad that Punjab-based militants 'are targeting Pakistan as well,' the United States has asked Pakistan to curb anti-India terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Robert Blake, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia who visited India and Pakistan last month, said on Thursday he had told his interlocutors in Islamabad that it could do more to improve relations with New Delhi.
Welcoming the recent resumption of dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours, Blake said he told the Pakistanis that India is really seeking two things: the continued prosecution of Mumbai terror attack suspects and "progress to curtail cross-border infiltration that is taking place from Pakistan into India."
The official said he had "reminded them that from 2004 to 2007 both of those countries made quite important progress in their bilateral relations, and that that progress was made possible in part by the significant efforts that the government of Pakistan made at that time to stop cross-border infiltration."
Praising Pakistan for the "very important progress" it has made in Swat and South Waziristan and in the arrest of Taliban leaders, "I urged them to also take action against the Punjab-based groups, such as LeT, not only because that's important to India, but it's important to the United States."
"LeT has growing ambition and scope in its activities, as shown by the David Headley case. And so we think it's very much in the interests of Pakistan, as well, to take action against the LeT," Blake said.
"I think one can argue there is a lot of important progress that has been made but we think there also needs to be progress against these Punjab-based groups," Blake said referring to LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed involved in a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.
Blake said Punjab-based militants "are targeting Pakistan as well," pointing to attacks in Lahore including a deadly 2009 ambush on Sri Lanka's visiting cricket team.
The US he said hopes that India and Pakistan can improve relations between what are two friends of the United States. Blake said he reiterated "our long-standing position that the pace, scope and character of relations and the resumption of relations is up to the governments of India and Pakistan, but again, as a friend of both of those countries, we hope that they can make progress."
He had also urged business communities in both countries "to take advantage of the significant thus far under-exploited opportunities for trade between India and Pakistan."
Noting that the volume of bilateral trade was about $2.75 billion a year, he said: "That is quite small for countries whose economies are really quite well developed, and that such trade would provide significant employment opportunities not only for Pakistan but also for India.
"And that in itself would have a stabilising impact. So that was another very important message throughout my visits."