Washington: As Pakistan combats the
terrorist threat along the Af-Pak border by moving about one
lakh troops from its India border, a top Pentagon official
told US lawmakers on Thursday that Washington needs to reassure
Islamabad that it is not exposing itself to increased risk
along its eastern border.
"Although extremist attacks have led to the
repositioning of substantial Pakistani forces, Pakistan`s
strategic concerns about India remain pre-eminent," Michele
Flournoy, the Under Secretary for Policy in the Department of
Defense, told lawmakers.
"We must continue to reassure Pakistan that as it
combats the terrorist threat, it is not exposing itself to
increased risk along its eastern border," he told a
A day earlier, Pentagon had informed the US Congress
that the Pakistan Army has shifted about one lakh troops from
the Indian border to its western border; thus acknowledging
the fact that terrorism and internal insurgency poses more
threat to the country.
"More than 100,000 PAKMIL troops were moved from the
eastern border with India. This unprecedented deployment and
thinning of the lines against India indicates that Islamabad
has acknowledged its domestic insurgent threat. Pakistan has
suffered attacks from terrorists in response to its successful
operations," the Pentagon said in its latest periodic report
to the Congress on Afghanistan.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee,
Flournoy said Pakistan is also wary about the increasing
"A final hurdle, frankly, relates to the legacy of
mistrust between the United States and Pakistan. Past US
sanctions, past Pakistani concerns about the growing US-India
relationship, its scepticism about US staying power in the
region have made it a weary partner," she said.
"Similarly, reports of Pakistan`s tolerance and
support for some violent extremist groups have created
scepticism on the US side," she said, adding that this is a
partnership that is absolutely vital to US national interests.
"But it is also complex. And the need for candid
dialogue and mutual reassurance remains very strong, and I
believe we have made substantial progress in this regard over
the last year," she said.
Observing that Pakistan`s traditional defence posture
is and always has been geared to conventional military
conflict with India and not a counterinsurgency, she said
consequently, prior to Pakistani Taliban`s audacious foray
into the Swat valley approximately one year ago, Pakistani
leadership was reluctant to acknowledge such groups as
serious threats to their state security.
"In the past, the Pakistan approach to dealing with
violent extremists relied primarily on limited and often
inconclusive military operations, as well as tenuous
cease-fire agreements, all of which collapsed immediately.
Pakistan`s approach to military networks changed when
these militants began directing their violence inward, against
the Pakistani state, the people and the society," Flournoy
Responding to a question, Lt. Gen John Paxton (US
Marines), Director for Operations, Joint Chief of Staff, said
India too has moved troops from the Pakistan border.
"Yes, sir, I think probably on the intelligence side,
we probably want to answer that in closed session," he said.
"We have made overtures, obviously, that trying to
diminish the feeling of a threat there will have mutual
benefits and a lessening of tensions within the region,"
"And I think we have good partners and allies on
both sides of the India-Pakistan equation, sir," he told the