Washington: Pakistan would regret hedging its bets against terrorist organisations, including the Haqqani network, a former top American diplomat who served multiple stints in Afghanistan and Pakistan told lawmakers today.
"Pakistanis have hedged their bets based on their experience in the 1990s. They supported the Taliban then as a vehicle to put an end to the Afghan civil war and produce a government and Afghanistan that again would stabilise the situation, and with which they had some purchase," Ryan Croker, the former US Ambassador to both Afghanistan and Pakistan told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing.
"That over time, I think, has led them to some strategies that I would hope they regret, like support for the Haqqani network. Going back almost 10 years, I remember discussions with Pakistani leadership, intelligence, military and presidential, that the Haqqanis were really dangerous, not just to us, not just to the Afghan state but to the Pakistani state. Well, so it's proved," Croker said in response to a question.
"But it does raise a question, given the current challenges Pakistan faces, whether they could really subdue the Haqqanis or not. You know, that is why long-term US engagement and leadership is so critical.
It's 185 million people with nuclear weapons that is facing a set of insurgencies that could grow to threaten the state, some of these insurgencies of their own making that got out of control. But the threat, nonetheless, is there," he said.
James Cunningham, the former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, hoped that Pakistan would finally act against terrorist groups.
"A long-term solution has to include dealing with the presence of those folks in the Pakistani side of the border, for both countries," he said.
"There is evidence that the awareness, a realistic awareness of that is growing in Pakistan. We have been encouraging that relentlessly over the past couple of years and I hope the Pakistanis will come to realise genuinely that they need to act in their own interests as well is in the regional," he hoped.
Michael Leiter, former Director of the National Terrorism Center expressed concern over the strength of the Haqqani network, the threat it poses to the US and their relationship with Pakistani establishment.
"We have to understand that our presence is required not just to combat these forces in Afghanistan, but continue to work with the Pakistanis and pressure the Pakistanis to target those same group," he said.