`Pak`s civilian govt may complete its full term`

Last Updated: Friday, February 17, 2012 - 15:16

Washington: Pakistan`s current civilian government may complete its full term as the nation`s powerful Army is not inclined to stage a coup, a top American intelligence official has said.

"The history has been that we`ve never had an administration that saw the completion of its whole term. I am moderately optimistic that this one may succeed, despite all its current challenges and the court proceeding that`s going on there now," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the US Congress.

The top American intelligence official`s estimation comes as no civilian government on Pakistan has been able to complete its full term.

Clapper said his review was based on reports that present Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani is not inclined to a military coup as he is very sensitive to the independence of the military.

"I don`t think it`s the inclination of the current Army leadership, specifically General Kayani, who I think is very sensitive to the independence of the military and not doing that," he said in response to a question from Senator Mark Udall at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Udall asked the likelihood of another military coup in Pakistan over the next year to two years.

Clapper said the Pakistani government is in the throes of kind of re-examining its relationship with the United States. "Perhaps a reset, if I can use that term, of just what the relationship will be with the United States. That`s a subject their Parliament is going to take up. And so we`ll await the outcome of that," he said.

Responding to questions, Clapper said Pakistanis, via the ISI, would want to maintain visibility and influence. "I`m not sure I`d go so far as to say they would insist on dominance, but they certainly want to have insight and influence in Afghanistan, particularly in a post 2014 context -- remembering that their primary interest is India," he said.

Clapper said Pakistan, despite having capabilities, does not have intentions to take on the Haqqani network. "The Pakistani Army has within its capabilities -- and in light of its other obligations -- has done a lot in the FATA and has lost a lot of soldiers in that process," he said.

"I don`t -- I don`t think so," Clapper said, when Senator Levin asked: "My question, though, is whether they have the intention to take steps to stop the Haqqanis."

Clapper said the US needs to be always vigilant to prevent a recurrence or regeneration of al Qaeda leadership, centring its planning and operational planning from the safe haven in Pakistan. Ronald L Burgess, Director, Defence Intelligence Agency, said despite successful coalition targeting, the Taliban remain resilient and able to replace leadership losses while also competing to provide governance at the local level.

"From its Pakistani safe havens, the Taliban leadership remains confident of eventual victory," he said. Ranking member of the committee, Senator John McCain, said Pakistan remains as fragile and combustible as ever.

"Pakistan`s intelligence service continues to support terrorist elements inside Afghanistan that are attacking and killing Americans," he said.

Senator Levin said Pakistan`s refusal to go after the safe havens of the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan and of Afghan Taliban shura in Quetta "belies Pakistan`s assertions" that it is committed to peace and security in the region.

"Pakistan`s support to the Haqqani network, which former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen called a, quote, `veritable arm of the ISI`, Pakistan`s intelligence agency, is a major cause for US-Pakistan relations reaching a low point, where they`re going to remain until the Pakistan military ends its ties to these militant extremists carrying out cross-border attacks," he said.

"We need to understand the intelligence community`s assessment of Pakistan`s strategy with respect to these insurgent groups and the reconciliation process as to Pakistan`s power to determine and as to Pakistan`s power to determine outcomes," Levin said.

PTI



First Published: Friday, February 17, 2012 - 15:16

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