Washington, March 29: Pakistan has an “addiction” of “playing around” with militant groups against India even as Afghanistan and Pakistan remain Al Qaeda’s prime areas for launching strategic attacks, according to a top Pentagon official.
“They have an addiction to playing around with militia groups to achieve certain interests, particularly vis-a-vis India. That gets them in all kinds of trouble,” Michael Sheehan, Assistant Defence Secretary for Special Operations, told lawmakers.
In testimony before a Senate Armed Services subcommittee Wednesday, Sheehan said with not much success in discussions with Islamabad, the US has virtually “given up” in its effort to change the mindset of Pakistan with regard to India.
“We’ve had these conversations with them forever about that. I don’t see that changing. I don’t see any set of talking points that’s going to be delivered by some new diplomat that’s going to change their mind,” he said.
“It’s the way they view the world.”
Testifying about Osama bin Laden’s core Al Qaeda based in Pakistan, Sheehan said: “We have made progress on this front, but Al Qaeda is a highly adaptive organisation and we must continue to work with Pakistan to address threats emanating from this region.”
“The kinetic action has primarily focused in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and increasingly in the Horn of Africa as well as once in a while in Yemen – in those three areas. So the primary interest for me for Al Qaeda has always been Pakistan,” he said.
“Even when Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan prior to 9/11, they moved through Pakistan. So that remains a number-one area as the launch point for strategic attacks from Al-Qaeda,” Sheehan said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)