Washington, March 29: There is a "serious extremism and terrorism problem" in Pakistan, the US has said, a day after a Taliban suicide bombing in Lahore killed over 70 people and wounded more than 300, including many women and children.
"There is a serious extremism and terrorism problem inside of Pakistan.The Pakistani government understands that," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday. "The US has certainly been supportive and encouraging of the Pakistani government as they have considered the steps necessary to combat that extremist threat.
"This terrorist attack that we saw in this park over the weekend is grotesque and chilling. But unfortunately, it is not the only effort that we have seen on part of extremists in a large-scale way, to carry out an atrocity against a large group of innocent people, including children," he said.
Earnest said that it was just a year and a half or so ago when the Taliban terrorists attacked a Peshawar school, killing 151 people mostly school students.
"So that is an indication that there continues to be a serious problem and the US will continue to support the Pakistani government as they try to confront and combat that extremist element within their own country," Earnest said. He said the US condemns in the strongest possible terms this terror attack at a children's park in Lahore on Sunday.
"The other thing is indicative of what we talk about up here quite a bit is that even though this terror attack was targeted at Christians, a religious minority in Pakistan - again, that is in and of itself grotesque, but the fact of the matter is that based on the names that we are seeing now, the majority of the victims were actually Muslims," Earnest said.
"It demonstrates how important it is for the world to come together to fight this kind of extremism. As a purely practical matter, that is also what is going to be required, and our success in fighting extremism around the globe is going to also depend on the ability of individual nations to fight extremism within their borders. "Certainly, the government of Pakistan understands this today, just how critically important that is," Earnest said.
The US and Pakistan have an important counterterrorism relationship. The Obama administration certainly values the kind of cooperation that it has received from them, he said.
"In this instance, the response and the investigation will be conducted by the Pakistani government and if they request assistance from the US, it will be provided," Earnest added.
At least 72 people including 29 children were killed in the Taliban suicide bombing at a park during Easter celebration in Lahore on Sunday, Tuesday, March 29.