WASHINGTON - The United States has said it ‘expects’ Pakistan, which has itself suffered from terrorism, to act against perpetrators of a deadly attack on an Indian air force base in Pathankot.

“The government of Pakistan has spoken very powerfully on this and it’s our expectation that they’ll treat this exactly the way they’ve said they would. We have been clear with the highest levels of the government of Pakistan that it must continue to target all militant groups,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the daily press briefing.

The spokesman was responding to questions from an Indian journalist who was seeking to blame Pakistan for the attack and asking him whether the US was pressuring Pakistan to eliminate the militant training centres on its soil.

Kirby described terrorism as a shared challenge that “all countries in the region” must fight together, saying the US “strongly encouraged the governments of both India and Pakistan to remain steadfast in their commitment to a more secure and prosperous future for both their countries and for the region.”

“We urge all the countries in the region to work together to disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks and to bring to justice the perpetrators of this particular attack. I would note that the government of Pakistan, also publicly and privately condemned this recent attack on the Indian airbase.”

“We have been clear with the highest levels of the government of Pakistan that it must continue to target all militant groups,” Kirby said.

“I would point you back to what the government of Pakistan itself has said and acknowledged, that it’s not going to discriminate among terrorist groups and it will continue to take the fight,” the spokesman said. “And Pakistan too has suffered from terrorism. Thousands and thousands of Pakistani soldiers have been killed. Thousands of Pakistani citizens – innocent Pakistani citizens – have been killed or injured by terrorist attacks.

“The Pakistani government, the Pakistani people very much understand the threat here. And what we want and what we continue to say we want and will continue to work for is increased cooperation, communication, coordination; increased information sharing and increased efforts against what we all believe is a shared challenge in the region.”

“We’re mindful that there remain some safe havens that we obviously want to see cleared out. And we continue to engage with the government of Pakistan to that end,” Kirby said. “We want to see the government of Pakistan continue to press the fight against terrorists, all terrorists, and to meet their own expectations that they’re not going to discriminate among groups. They’ve said themselves and our expectation is that they’ll live up to that pledge,” he said.

“We recognise there’s more everybody can do, not just Pakistan but every nation can do because it is a shared challenge and it’s a challenge, as you well know, that doesn’t necessarily observe borders and boundaries. So it’s something that everybody can attack more,” Kirby said. He said the US is encouraged by the government of Pakistan condemning this attack, and the statement that they’ve made about not discriminating among groups.

“As we’ve said before, this is an issue that, as are so many issues between India and Pakistan and we want to see them work out bilaterally,” Kirby said, adding that normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan remains vital to the security and economic prosperity of the entire region.