'US military support to Pakistan must be conditional on terror crackdown', says International Crisis Group


NEW DELHI, Apr. 28: The role of the US "will be central" in pressuring Pakistan to rethink " its support to the Taliban 's Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network", said the International Crisis Group (ICG), which does research on violent conflict.

In its first 'Watch List 2017' of the year- what the ICG calls "early-warning publications" - it said "the US is best placed to pressure Pakistan to reverse its support for Afghan proxies".

A part of ICG's report, titled 'Afghanistan: Growing Challenges", said the country's neighbours "are more aggressively promoting what they perceive to be their own national security interests."

"This most notably is the case of Pakistan, whose relations with Afghanistancontinue to be strained. Islamabad remains unwilling to facilitate talks between the Taliban and Kabul, and continues supporting its Afghan proxies, allowing them to recruit, fundraise, as well as plan and conduct operations from safe havens inside Pakistan," ICG's report said.

Worse, closer ties between Kabul and New Delhi, "are viewed as provocative by Islamabad", ICG said.

Therefore, it's down to the US to act against Pakistan to force it to abandon support to terror.

"The US role will be central, including by conditioning continued military support to Islamabad on Pakistan working with Kabul to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table and rethinking its support to the Taliban's Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network, now fully integrated into the insurgency's command structure," ICG said.

American civilian and military aid to Pakistan, once the third-largest recipient of US foreign assistance, is expected to total less than $1 billion in 2016, down from a recent peak of more than $3.5 billion in 2011, according to US government data, Reuters reported last August.

That may come down even more, as the Donald Trump administration in the US is hinting at a tougher stance against Pakistan.

Before his visit to Islamabad earlier this month, US national security adviser (NSA) Lieutenant General HR McMaster, in an interview to Afghan television channel ToloNews, appeared to take a "tougher line" on Pakistan, for its use of the Taliban as a proxy force and for giving its leaders sanctuary.

"As all of us have hoped for many, many years - we have hoped that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past," McMaster said in the interview.




"The best way to pursue their interests in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through the use of diplomacy, and not through the use of proxies that engage in violence," McMaster said.

McMaster's delegation included Lisa Curtis, a well known conservative expert, whom the NSA recently roped in as the Trump administration's point person for South Asia, naming her senior director for South Asia.




Significantly, Curtis recently co-authored a paper calling on the US to stop treating Pakistan as an ally. Curtis urged the US to "focus on diplomatically isolating" Pakistan if it continues to support groups that have links to international terror.(TOI)

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