Islamabad: Pakistan’s military continues to support terrorist groups that attack India to keep it “off balance” and draws international mediation into dispute over Kashmir, according to a report by a group of eminent South Asian experts from 10 major American think tanks.
As per the report titled ‘A New US Approach to Pakistan: Enforcing Aid Conditions without Cutting Ties’ which will be released here on Friday, Pakistan’s military has often disrupted nascent peace efforts pursued by Indian and Pakistani civilian rulers, most notably in 1999 during the Kargil war.
“Pakistani military leaders continue to support terrorist groups that attack India in an effort to keep it off balance and to draw international mediation into the dispute with India over Kashmir,” said the report.
“Pakistan’s use of terrorist groups as part of its security and foreign policy is a function of its obsession with India, which it perceives as an existential threat. From an outside perspective, Pakistan’s paranoia regarding India is unfounded,” it said.
The report said while India may be unwilling to renegotiate Kashmir’s territorial status, numerous Indian leaders have tried to reach a modus vivendi with Pakistan.
Pakistan never changed its policy of supporting certain militant groups that fight Afghan and coalition forces, making it impossible for the US to achieve its objective of keeping Afghanistan from reverting to a safe haven for international terrorism, it said.
“Pakistan’s seemingly unconstrained expansion of its nuclear arsenal, particularly the development of tactical nuclear weapons and extended–range missile systems, also remains a cause for concern, especially with regard to India,” said the report co-authored by Lisa Curtis from The Heritage Foundation and Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistan Ambassador to the US, who is now with The Hudson Institute.
Among other members of the report are Col (retd) John Gill, Professor from National Defense University; Anish Goel, from New America; Bruce Riedel from Brookings Institution; David S Sedney, Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Marvin Weinbaum from, Middle East Institute.
The US clearly recognises that Pakistan’s support for the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups is not the sole reason for Afghanistan’s security challenges.
However, the other problems become insurmountable when the principal insurgent groups enjoy safe havens in Pakistan, the report said.
Pakistan’s tolerance for terror groups also undermines the country itself, corroding its stability and civilian governance and damaging its investment climate, as well as inflicting death and injury on thousands of its own innocent citizens, it said.
The objective of the Trump administration’s policy toward Pakistan must be to make it more and more costly for Pakistani leaders to employ a strategy of supporting terrorist proxies to achieve regional strategic goals, it said.
“There should be no ambiguity that the US considers Pakistan’s strategy of supporting terrorist proxies to achieve regional strategic advantage as a threat to US interests. US policy must also pay attention to non-proliferation goals while dealing with Pakistan,” the report said.
The US continues to provide economic and military assistance to Pakistan without having secured its objective of convincing Islamabad to end its policy of using terrorist proxies to achieve regional strategic objectives.
However, there have been some positive developments with regard to Pakistan’s fight against terrorists that attack the Pakistani state, it noted.
“The Pakistan military has been accused of facilitating the attack against India’s Pathankot air base last January that derailed the goodwill created by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore to meet with PM Sharif six days earlier. And Pakistan-backed militants have acted as spoilers numerous times when bilateral ties seemed to be warming,” it said.
American interests in the region are not served by Pakistan’s strategic thinking, which is fuelled by the belief that India seeks to weaken and then dismantle Pakistan.
“Nor are American interests fully compatible with Pakistan’s desire to steer events in Afghanistan and counter any Indian role there. Continued US assistance, offered in the hope of a gradual change in Pakistan’s terrorism policies, only provides Pakistan an economic cushion and better quality military equipment to persist with those policies,” the report said.