India is the “primary strategic interest” of Pakistan in Afghanistan,a top US intelligence official has told lawmakers,underlining that Islamabad will hold on to this strategy as it sees New Delhi as a “pre-eminent threat” in that war-ravaged country.
“The tenet to remember here is that the primary strategic interests of Pakistan is India,” James Clapper,the Director of National Intelligence told a Congressional hearing when asked about the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan.
“So they view whatever they do in Afghanistan through that lens of their pre-eminent threat and what they’re most consumed with is India. So to the extent that they can maintain visibility and influence in Afghanistan,I believe they will continue to do,” Clapper said yesterday.
The intelligence official was responding to questions from Senator Carl Levin,the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee,which had convened the Congressional hearing on ‘Current and Future Worldwide Threats’.
Clapper conceded that Pakistan will take action against terrorists only if they pose threat to its national security and acknowledged that there has been no change in Islamabad’s policy of giving safe haven to the Taliban within its territory.
“I am talking about the Afghan Taliban that they have given sanctuary in… Is there any change in that” Levin asked. “Not basically,” Clapper said.
“Has Pakistan changed its strategic calculation with respect to Afghanistan? And more specifically,is there any change that we have determined in Pakistan’s so far unwillingness to deal with the Afghan Taliban,which has been given sanctuary in Pakistan?
Is that still their on-the-ground position that they are not going to take on or deal with or put in jeopardy the Afghan Taliban that is,again,inside Pakistan?” the top US Senator asked during the hearing.
Notably former Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran last week had told a Washington audience that New Delhi had offered to hold talks with Islamabad on its activities in Afghanistan,so as to address its concerns if any.
For long Pakistan has alleged that India has been working against Pakistani interest in Afghanistan. Pakistan,so far,has decided against accepting the offer and Saran.