Washington: A bill has been introduced in the US Congress describing Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, even as members of the US Congress come down heavily on Sunday's cross-border terror attack on an army base at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in which 18 Indian soldiers lost their lives.
Congressman Ted Poe (Republican), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, along with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Republican) on Tuesday introduced the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act.
"Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years," Poe said in a statement.
"From harbouring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror. And it's not America's," he said.
According to Poe, the bill will require the US President Barack Obama's administration to formally answer this question.
"The President must issue a report within 90 days of passage detailing whether or not Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism," the Congressman said.
"Thirty days after that, the Secretary of State must issue a follow-up report containing either a determination that Pakistan is state sponsor of terrorism or a detailed justification as to why Pakistan does not meet the legal criteria for designation."
Poe said it was time the US stopped paying Pakistan "for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a state sponsor of terrorism".
In a separate statement, Poe described the attack as "the deadliest assault" in Kashmir in over two decades.
"It is a reminder to democracies the world over that terrorism seeks to destroy peace loving societies everywhere," Poe said in a statement.
Stating that though it was not clear which terrorist group was behind the attack, he said one things was certain: "This is just the latest consequence of Pakistan's longstanding irresponsible policy of supporting and providing operational space for all stripes of jihadi terrorist groups. Pakistan's reckless behavior in this regard is a serious security risk to its neighbors - and India unfortunately pays the price all too often."
Condemning the attack, "as well as Pakistan's support for many criminals like the ones who carried it out", Poe said that the US stood firm in its "commitment to our friends in India".
"A threat to democracy in India is a threat to democracy everywhere. And that's just the way it is," he said
India has blamed the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist group for the early morning attack on the sleeping soldiers. All the four attackers were killed.
Though the JeM is yet to claim responsibility for the attack, it had admitted to its role in the cross-border attack on the Pathankot Indian Air Force base on January 2 this year that left seven Indian security personnel dead.
Condemning the attack, Senator Mark Warner (Democrat), Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus said in a statement that "the terrorists who perpetrated this cowardly act must be brought to justice".
"I extend condolences to the family and friends of the Soldiers who lost their lives in the attack," Warner said
In his statement, Senator Tom Cotton (Republican), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland, described the attack as "a cowardly act, one that deserves the strongest condemnation".
"I extend my condolences to the Indian government and to the families of the fallen," he said.
"The United States and India share a vital interest in defending our democracies from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism," Cotton said.
"Both our nations must commit fully to deepening our security partnership so that radical jihadists are defeated and stability in the region is maintained."
Condemning the attack, Congressman Pete Sessions (Republican), Chairman of House Rules Committee, said: "We will not let these attacks affect our united fight against terrorism."
In his statement, Congressman Brad Sherman (Democrat), Ranking Member of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, said that the attack was "yet another reminder of the threat international terrorism poses".
"I strongly encourage the governments in the region to make every effort to find the terrorists that carried out these attacks and bring them to justice," he said.
"The United States should continue to assist these governments and ensure they can eliminate terrorist threats."