Pak ‘Harbouring Terrorists’ In Afghanistan To Counter Indian Influence: Top US Official

Washington: Pakistan is “harbouring terrorists” and using them as “reserve” in Afghanistan, a top US intelligence official has told lawmakers. Pakistan wants to see an Afghanistan that “does not have heavy Indian influence,” 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 (Pakistan) view all of the challenges through the lens of an Indian threat,” Lt Gen Stewart said.

“So they (Pakistan) hold in reserve terrorist organisations — if Afghanistan leans towards India, they will no longer be supportive of an idea of a stable and secure Afghanistan that could undermine Pakistan’s interest,” Lt Gen Stewart said.

The top defence official said that Pakistan needs to be told very clearly that Afghanistan’s security and stability is in the interest of all, 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,” he said. “We ought to be working together to go after those 20 terrorist organisations that undermine not just Afghanistan, not just Pakistan, but the entire region,” Lt Gen Stewart said. “And so we have to make sure we’re pushing them (Pakistan) to do more against the Haqqani network.”

So, we’ve got tell Pakistan “that the status quo is not in their best interest,” he said.

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence said there is a 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,” Mr Coats said.