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'Pak still maintaining links with terror groups'

world Updated: Feb 03, 2010 13:04 IST
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Pakistan continues to support and maintain ties with terror groups having links to the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani network, despite taking action against militants in the country, a top US official has said.

Pakistan is reluctant to confront terror groups that do not threaten it directly and is yet to sever its links with militant proxies, such as Haqqani Taliban, Gul Bahadur group, and Commander Nazir group, US' top intelligence official Dennis C Blair told US lawmakers.

Pakistan's conviction that "militant groups are an important part of its strategic arsenal to counter India's military and economic advantages will continue to limit its incentive to pursue an across-the-board effort against extremism," said the Director of the National Intelligence.

In his Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community submitted to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Blair said Pakistan's efforts against insurgents and terrorists has been mixed.

"Islamabad has demonstrated determination and persistence in combating militants it perceives dangerous to Pakistan's interests, particularly those involved in attacks in settled areas, including Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaida and other associated operatives," Blair said in his testimony.

"However, it still judges it does not need to confront groups that do not threaten it directly and maintains historical support to the Taliban," he said.

Pakistan has not consistently pursued militant actors focused on Afghanistan, Blair said.

"Simultaneously, Islamabad has maintained relationships with other Taliban-associated groups that support and conduct operations against US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan.

Islamabad's strategic approach risks helping al-Qaida sustain its safe haven because some groups supported by Pakistan provide assistance to al-Qaida, he said in his annual assessment.

"Islamabad has demonstrated determination and persistence in combating militants that it perceives are dangerous to Pakistan's interests. But has continued to provide some support to other Pakistan-based groups that operate in Afghanistan," Blair said expressing serious concern.

Noting that US and coalition success against insurgency in Afghanistan could provide new, long-term incentives for Pakistan to take steps against Afghan-focused militants, Blair said increased Pakistani cooperation is more likely if it is persuaded that the US is committed to stabilising Afghanistan and will ultimately have success.