Pakistan Addicted To Using Terrorist Groups Against India: US

Pakistan is addicted to using terrorist groups against India and the policy is not going to change any time soon, a key Pentagon official told the US Congress in a blunt and bleak assessment of the situation in the region.

Pakistan Addicted To Using Terrorist Groups Against India: USPakistan is addicted to using terrorist groups against India and the policy is not going to change any time soon, a key Pentagon official told the US Congress in a blunt and bleak assessment of the situation in the region.

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Sub-Committee on emerging threats and capabilities, the Obama administration's assistant secretary of defense for special ops/low-intensity conflict Michael Sheehan barely minced words on Tuesday in calling out Pakistan's now widely-known policy of using terrorism as a policy tool. But what was astonishing was his candid admission about US helplessness in changing the Pakistani mindset.

''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,'' Sheehan told the panel, using a milder term for terrorists groups.

He then added: ''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.''

Sheehan's remarks came amid a significant thawing of ties between Pakistan's civilian establishment, buffeted by multiple domestic crisis, including a critical shortage of energy that is causing street rioting, and New Delhi. The official echoed President Obama's view that Washington had little choice but to work with Islamabad despite its disquieting use of terrorism by the country's military establishment, a policy New Delhi also appears to have embraced as it offers power supply to Pakistan.

''It's a very troubling and can be so frustrating in dealing with the Pakistani government on so many levels, but at the end of the day we're going to find confluence of interest and we're going to work together as best we can,'' Sheehan said in expressing Washington's dilemma which appears to be shared by New Delhi as it warms up to Pakistan despite its inaction on 26/11 and not forswearing use of proxy terrorist groups which have now been mainstreamed into Pakistani politics under the banner of difa-e-Pakistan (Defence of Pakistan)

Sheehan warned though that ''at the end of the day, the (US) president is going to do what he has to do, unilaterally. And he will always protect that prerogative to protect the security of the American people and our interests.'' India is implicitly asked not to exercise such prerogative by US and its western cohorts, although Washington has lately laid off on from stiff-arming New Delhi in this regard.

Top U.S military generals have been meeting with Pakistani counterparts to get the relationship back on rails, and while there is some sign of thaw, Sheehan offered a bleak assessment of long-term relationship. He indicated the new parliamentary committee review of US-Pakistan relation, including a laundry list of demands on Washington, ''are going to further complicate our ability to work with the Pakistani government.''

President Obama too suggested as much as he asked Pakistan to keep US interests in mind even as he welcomed the review during his meeting with Prime Minister Gilani in Seoul. ''He's very respectful of that process,'' a senior Obama administration official said of the review while maintaining the US was also mindful of its ''core interest'' - of eliminating terrorism.

Obama himself was upfront about what he expected from Pakistan following his meeting with Gilani, saying ''my expectation is, is that as a consequence of the review that's taking place in Pakistan as well as the work that we're doing on the American side, that we can achieve the kind of balanced approach that respects Pakistan's sovereignty, but also it respects our concerns with respect to our national security and our needs to battle terrorists who have targeted us in the past.'' At the same time, he did not commit himself to ending drone strikes, which Pakistan says violates its sovereignty.

Despite a very public demand from Pakistan for a civilian nuclear deal on par with India's, the US official said the subject did not even feature in the Obama-Gilani talks, which centered on the parliamentary review, counter-terrorism, Afghanistan, and some economic issues.