Washington: Accusing Pakistan of abetting terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, a key lawmaker wants the Obama administration to adopt a more realistic policy towards a key ally.
"We need to rid ourselves of the absurd notion that we can change Pakistan, reform its government, or create real trust," Gary Ackerman, top Democrat on a House foreign affairs sub-panel, said at a Congressional hearing on Thursday.
Asserting "Pakistani military establishment is not our friend. They are not our allies. They are not our partners. They are not on our team," he said "It`s not a secret that the Haqqani network is responsible for numerous attacks on the Afghan government and our troops.”
"It`s not a secret that Lashkar-e-Toiba, which was responsible for the horrific November, 2008, massacre of civilians in Mumbai, India, an attack that clearly implicated the Pakistani military, operates openly in Pakistan."
"The government of Pakistan has made no effort to interfere, disrupt, arrest or shut down any of these groups or their activities," Ackerman said noting "It`s no secret that Osama bin Laden was living comfortably in Abbottabad."
"Pakistan is not our pal, our buddy or our chum. It is a sovereign state, pursuing its own self-defined interests in what it perceives to be a tough neighbourhood. But they contribute to making it tough."
Steve Chabot, Republican chair of the panel said he was very concerned about Obama administration`s plan to use Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to reach out to insurgents" and "the implications of this policy for India, which has been, continues to be, and I hope will remain, a close ally and friend of the United States”.
Citing "LeT`s important domestic strategy and the importance of Lashkar to the ISI," Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Peace and Security Studies said "many of the militant groups serve important domestic purposes for Pakistan”.
Ashley Tellis, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the Haqqani network, for years, has been supported by the ISI "and I do not see, at this juncture, why the ISI would retrench that support given the perception that there is going to be a security transition in Afghanistan."