Pakistan nurtured extremist groups to fight "proxy irregular" war against India, while its military benefited from presenting New Delhi as a threat, a top Pentagon official told US lawmakers.
"Pakistan has viewed India itself and Indian (or any other nation’s) domination of Afghanistan as an existential threat, and has taken steps it believes are necessary to counter this threat, including developing nuclear weapons and nurturing extremist groups to fight proxy irregular warfare," Admiral James A Winnefeld, the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a written reply to lawmakers' query.
"That the Pakistani military benefits from presenting India as a threat, and that there are many in the military who sympathise with the extremist views of these groups, only reinforces this tendency. Moreover, these groups fought hard against the Soviets during their invasion of Afghanistan, and thus the military bears a certain loyalty to them," he said.
The officials, however, said in supporting and tolerating these terror groups the Pakistani military has grabbed the "tail of a tiger" that they may not be able to control.
Winnefeld, during his confirmation hearing for the post before a Congressional panel, said: "I believe it's very unfortunate that Pakistan years ago made a decision to go down a very risky road of using proxy groups to carry out some of its desires to protect what it views as its own national interests, and among those groups has been the Haqqani Network."
Winnefeld said: "Pakistan's a very, very difficult partner, and we all know that. We don't always share the same world view, or the same opinions, or the same national interests."
"I think we need to keep continued pressure on Pakistan, using all elements of pressure that we're able to apply to get them to realize that the Haqqani Network poses a threat to their own country, and to take the steps that we've asked them to take and that they need to take in order to eliminate that as a threat, not only inside Pakistan but, equally importantly for us, in Afghanistan," he said in response to a question from the lawmakers.
He, however, said recently military and civilian leadership have "increasingly proven ready to act against extremist groups that target their own government."
"We are working, with limited success, to convince our Pakistani partners that they must take externally-focused terror groups just as seriously as domestic terror groups, that in fact all such groups form a linked syndicate of sorts," he added.