Washington: As Pakistan reels under one
of the worst floods in decades, a Congressional report has
said that stressful environmental issues, including Pakistan`s
unresolved water dispute with India, could lead to greater
recruitment of radical Islamists in that country.
Environmental stress is viewed as a potential "threat
multiplier" to existing sources of conflict, said the latest
report on Pakistan by Congressional Research Institute (CRS),
an independent research wing of the US Congress that prepares
periodical reports on issues of interest to lawmakers.
"Environmental factors could also expand the ranks
of the dispossessed in Pakistan, which could lead to greater
recruitment for radical Islamist groups operating in Pakistan
or Afghanistan," said the report titled `Security and the
Environment in Pakistan`.
It notes that creation or expansion of ungoverned
areas or areas of limited government control in the region is
against US strategic interests, given the recent history of
such areas being used by Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other
terrorist groups as bases for operations against US interests.
"Larger numbers of dispossessed people in Pakistan
could also destabilize the current political regime. This
could add pressure on the Pakistani political system and
possibly add impetus to a return to military rule."
The report states that another concern is the
potential for environmental factors to stoke conflict between
the nuclear armed states of India and Pakistan.
"These two historical enemies have repeatedly fought
across their international frontier and have yet to resolve
their territorial dispute over Kashmir," it said.
"Further, a longstanding dispute over cross-border
water resource sharing between India and Pakistan has
resurfaced, possibly exacerbating existing tensions between
the two states."
However, it mentions that should the two countries
wish, this dispute offers a renewed opportunity for
cooperation, as has been seen in past negotiations.
The report warns American lawmakers that existing
environmental problems in Pakistan warrant a close watch,
especially when combined with Pakistan`s limited resilience
due to mounting demographic stresses, internal political
instability, security challenges, and limited economic
"This issue has added significant importance to
regional security and American interests in Afghanistan," it