'US helped give birth to terror groups in Pakistan'
Washington: A top US commander has acknowledged that some rebel groups it helped give birth to, in the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan had joined Pakistani terrorist groups active in South Asia.
"Part of the reason these groups exist is together with Pakistan we helped create some of them," General James N. Mattis, commander of the US Central Command, said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.
"And over the years, I believe that Pakistan got into position where the very groups that in some cases we helped to give birth to ... became part of the landscape, the Kalashnikov culture, for example," he said.
He was responding to Senator Carl Levin's question about the presence of safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan and posing a security threat to Afghanistan and the region.
"Any attempt to look at Pakistan's security interests must include their relationship, their difficult relationship, with India," Mattis said when asked about disconnects where the US has not always seen eye to eye with Islamabad.
He said in many areas, Pakistan had acted against such groups and that has cost it thousands of troops killed and wounded.
"But I think, too, it is the most difficult terrain I have ever operated in my 39 years in uniform. And the Pakistan military's movement against these folks is continuing," Mattis said.
Mattis also assured lawmakers that Pakistan does not use any direct US money to strengthen its nuclear programme.
"I'm confident there is no direct funding going to their nuclear programme because of my confidence in tracking the cost we are reimbursing them for now," he said.
Admiral Eric T. Olson, commander of US special operations command, also said that Pakistan needs to do more in the war against terrorism.
Olson said he had been in constant touch with Admiral Willard, commander, Pacific Command, about the relationship between India and Pakistan.
"India-Pakistan reconciliation has got to be something that they take responsibility for. So we're more on a mode of making certain that what we're doing militarily is never seen as contrary to that trend," he said in response to a question.