“This attack only strengthens our resolve to bolster counter-terrorism cooperation and coordination between the United States and India,” a statement by the White House warned.
The United States told India it supports its right to defend itself against cross-border attacks, the government said Saturday, as New Delhi considers retaliation against a car bombing incident in disputed Kashmir claimed by Pakistan-based militants.
Bomb Kills at Least 18 Paramilitary in India-controlled Kashmir
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms the heinous terrorist attack by a Pakistan-based terrorist group that killed over 40 Indian paramilitary forces and wounded at least 44 others,” U.S President Donald Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.
“The United States calls on Pakistan to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil, whose only goal is to sow chaos, violence and terror in the region,” the White House statement warned. “This attack only strengthens our resolve to bolster counter-terrorism cooperation and coordination between the United States and India,”
Tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have risen again after New Delhi, incensed by the deadliest attack in Kashmir in decades, demanded that Pakistan act against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group behind the bombing.
Pakistan condemned Thursday's attack in which 44 paramilitary police were killed when the bomber slammed into a military convoy and denied any complicity.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval Friday, promising to help bring those behind the attack to justice, according to the Indian foreign ministry.
"The two NSAs vowed to work together to ensure that Pakistan cease to be a safe haven for JeM and terrorist groups that target India, the U.S. and others in the region," the foreign ministry said. "They resolved to hold Pakistan to account for its obligations under U.N. resolutions."
India has for years accused Pakistan of backing separatist militants in divided Kashmir, which the neighbors both claim in full but rule in part. However, Pakistan has denied that, saying it only offers political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has faced calls for retribution from Indians on social media as well hardline groups demonstrating in the streets, said on Saturday he had given a free hand to the military to respond to acts of violence.
"The country understands the anger simmering within the soldiers," Modi said at a political rally in western Maharashtra state.
Modi's Hindu nationalist ruling party faces a tough general election in later this year.
India and Pakistan have twice gone to war over Kashmir since their independence from Britain in 1947. In 2001, an attack on its parliament building prompted New Delhi to mobilize the military along the border with Pakistan in a standoff that lasted a year.
On Friday, India withdrew trade privileges to Pakistan in what it said was the first step to isolate Pakistan for not acting against Islamist militants operating from its soil.