WASHINGTON - Americans don’t understand cricket, but they like it, particularly of the diplomatic variety between friend India and ally Pakistan.
“We’re for cricket. We don’t understand it, but we like it,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at the daily briefing amid laughter Monday when asked to comment on resumption of India-Pakistan cricketing ties.
“We share the interest of people in India, (and) people in Pakistan ...in seeing these two countries continuing to improve their relationship,” she said reiterating US support for a continued dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours.
Welcoming the “considerable progress on the economic side,” Nuland said, the US “encouraged them to do better on issues like sharing counterterrorism information and dealing with threats to both countries,” but it was up to New Delhi and Islamabad how they move forward.
“We have been supportive in all of our diplomatic encounters at every level with the Indian side, with the Pakistani side in some of the progress that they’ve made,” she said.
“They’ve made considerable progress on the economic side,” Nuland said. “We are encouraging them to do better on issues like sharing counterterrorism information, dealing with threats to both countries, moving forward to work on trust and political issues.”
“So we will continue (to) support dialogue between them at every level, but it’s obviously up to Indians and Pakistanis to continue to work on this,” she said.
The issue of dealing with the aftermath of the Mumbai bombings and bringing people to justice, Nuland said, comes up in all of US discussions with Indians and with Pakistanis.
“And we’ll continue to advocate for full justice being served, not least because Americans lost their lives as well.”
The spokesman also said that the US was satisfied with the improved pace of transportation through Pakistani border-crossings into Afghanistan, with hundreds of containers finding passage via the country’s previously blocked overland routes.
“What I will say on Pakistan is that we’ve got good news with
regard to the ground lines of communication,” Nuland said at the daily briefing.
“As you know, they’ve been open for some week and a half, two weeks now, and we have some 400 trucks either having passed or getting ready to pass through. And so that is working very well,” the spokesperson added.
The Pakistani routes, the shortest and the most cost-effective were closed in November 2011 in reaction to the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in cross-border American aerial strikes on the country’s border posts.
For almost seven months, the US-led NATO allies had to rely on arduous northern distribution network that transported supplies into landlocked Afghanistan after long winding routes via Caucuses, Russia and several Central Asian states. Washington spent as much as $100 million in extra cost each of the months the Pakistani routes remained closed. The standoff was resolved when Secretary of State Hillary publicly apologised to Islamabad for the loss of Pakistani soldiers earlier this month, paving the way for revival of the country’s ground lines of communication.