Pakistan is “harbouring terrorists” and using them as “reserve” in Afghanistan, a top US intelligence official has told lawmakers.
“Pakistan views Afghanistan or desires for Afghanistan some of the same things we want: a safe, secure, stable Afghanistan. One addition — one that does not have heavy Indian influence in Afghanistan,” Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on worldwide threats.
“They view all of the challenges through the lens of an Indian threat to the state of Pakistan,” Stewart said.
“So they (Pakistan) hold in reserve terrorist organisation — we define them as terrorist organisations, they hold them in reserve so that — if Afghanistan leans towards India, they will no longer be supportive of an idea of a stable and secure Afghanistan that could undermine Pakistan interest,” Stewart said.
He said Pakistan needs to be told very clearly that Afghanistan’s security and stability is in the interest of all of the parties in the region and does not pose a risk to Pakistan.
“We’ve got to convince Pakistan that if they’re harbouring any of the Haqqani network members that it is not in their interest to continue to host of Haqqani network, that we ought to be working together to go after those 20 terrorist organisations that undermine not just Afghanistan, not just Pakistan, but all of the region,” he said.
“And so we’ve to make sure we’re pushing them to do more against the Haqqani network. Then (they should) separate the Taliban from the Pashtun, which want a Pashtun dominated Afghanistan,” he said.
“So we’ve got to get the conversation going again with Pakistan about their role in not harboring any of these terrorists, helping to stabilise Afghanistan,” he added.
Hoping that US may have some progress in this, Stewart said Pakistan also have some influence in bringing the Taliban to the peace table.
“So, we’ve got to get them to think about reconciliation, that the status quo is not in their best interest,” he said.
Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence said there is need to evaluate how to address the situation of Pakistan harbouring terrorist.
“I think certainly an evaluation of how we work with Pakistan to address the situation of the harbouring of terrorist groups would be essential to a strategy that affects Afghanistan, going forward in Afghanistan,” he said in response to a question.
“Because that is potentially a very disrupting situation, putting our own troops at risk and undermining the strategy of dealing with the Taliban and local groups that are trying to undermine the government,” Coats said.