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Pakistan considers India an existential threat: US

world Updated: Feb 01, 2012 10:42 IST

IANS
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The United States wants its relations with Pakistan to remain positive, but their interests sometimes differed as Pakistan considered India as an existential threat, according to Washington's intelligence chief.



Testifying before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the US relationship with Pakistan was a "challenging relationship but an important one," as the interests of the two countries are "not always congruent."


Noting that Afghanistan remains a hot spot, Clapper said: "During the past year, the Taliban lost some ground, but Taliban's senior leaders continued to enjoy safe haven in Pakistan."

To be successful, Afghanistan must have support from coalition forces and its neighbours-particularly Pakistan, he said.

Asked by panel vice-chairman Saxby Chambliss about what was being done about safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan, Clapper said that they were talking to Pakistan about it.

"Al Qaeda will increasingly rely on ideological and operational alliances with Pakistani militant factions to accomplish its goals with Pakistan and to conduct transnational attacks," he said.

"Pakistan military leaders have had limited success against Al Qaeda operatives, other foreign fighters and Pakistani militants who pose a threat to Islamabad," Clapper said.

"We judge Al Qaeda operatives are balancing support for attacks in Pakistan with guidance to refocus the global jihad externally against US targets," he said.

Clapper said India had significantly increased its engagement with Afghanistan in 2011, but New Delhi in the near term is unlikely to send troops or heavy equipment to Kabul because it does not want to provoke Pakistan.

India's increased engagement is aimed at helping the Afghan Government sustain its sovereignty and independence during and after International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces draw down, he said.

"We judge that India sees its goals in Afghanistan as consistent with US objectives and favours a sustained ISAF and US presence in the country.

"India will almost certainly cooperate with the United States and Afghanistan in bilateral and multilateral frameworks to identify assistance activities that will help bolster civil society, develop capacity, and strengthen political structures in Afghanistan," he said.

CIA Director David Petraeus said while Pakistan had conducted operations in Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Swat, they had not pressured the Haqqani Network or Mullah Nazir's group, nor pressured those present in Balochistan.