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US' Pak policy hasn't proved effective: Report

April 14, 2007 10:20 IST

A new and updated Congressional Research Service report has said that the outcomes of the Bush administration's policies toward Pakistan since 9/11, "while not devoid of meaningful successes, have neither neutralised anti-Western militants and reduced religious extremism in that country, nor have they contributed sufficiently to the stabilisation of neighbouring Afghanistan."

The report titled, 'Pakistan and Terrorism' and authored by K Alan Kronstadt, specialist in Asian Affairs in the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Division of the CRS -- considered the think tank of the US Congress -- noted that consequently, "Many observers thus urge a broad re-evaluation of such policies."

It said that while Pakistan has been vital in the US-led global war on terror in Afghanistan, "Yet a resurgent Taliban today operates in southern and eastern Afghanistan with the benefit of apparent sanctuary in parts of Western Pakistan."

The report also spoke of Washington's increasing concern that "members of Al Qaeda, its Taliban supporters, and other Islamist militants find safe haven in Pakistani cities such as Quetta and Peshawar, as well as in the rugged Pakistan-Afghanistan border region."

According to the report, Al Qaeda militants have also made "alliances with indigenous Pakistani terrorist groups that have been implicated in both anti-Western attacks in Pakistan and terrorism in India."

"In fact, Pakistan's struggle with militant Islamist extremism appears for some to have become a matter of survival for that country," it said and added, "as more evidence arises exposing Al Qaeda's deadly new alliance with indigenous Pakistani militants -- and related conflict continues to cause death and disruption in Pakistan's western regions -- concern about Pakistan's fundamental political and social stability has increased."

Taking exception to the remark by President Bush in his January 2007 State of the Union Address where he said, "We didn't drive Al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq," the report said that an increasing consensus among many observers is that "an American preoccupation with Iraq has contributed to allowing the emergence of new Al Qaeda safe havens in western Pakistan."

It recalled that in January 2007, in a Senate testimony assessing global threats, the outgoing director of National Intelligence and current Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, "captured in two sentences the dilemma Pakistan now poses for US policy makers," when he told lawmakers that "Pakistan is a frontline partner in the war on terror, (but) nevertheless, it remains a major source of Islamic extremism and the home for some top terrorist leaders."

The report from the CRS, considered the think tank of the US Congress, pointed out how Negroponte identified Al Qaeda as "the single greatest terrorist threat to the United States and its interests," and his warning that the organisation's "core elementsÂ… maintain connections and relationships that radiate outward from their leaders' secure hideouts in Pakistan."

According to the report, this latter reference by Negroponte was possibly the strongest such statement any senior Bush administration official has made, and pointed out that, ever since, several administration officials, US military commanders, and senior US Senators had issued "further incriminating statements about Pakistan's assumed status as a terrorist base and the allegedly insufficient response of the Islamabad government."

Another concern for the US was the ongoing "cross-border infiltration" of Islamic militants who go over the Indian border to engage in terrorist acts there.

The report said it was the opinion of many analysts that such activities are "conceptually inseparable from the problem of Islamist militancy in western Pakistan and in Afghanistan."

It also pointed out that many experts have rejected the attempts of the Pakistani government and others who have tried to distinguish between US- and India-designated terrorist groups fighting in Kashmir and those fighting in western Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Numerous experts raise questions about the determination, sincerity, and effectiveness of Pakistani government efforts to combat religious extremists," the report said, and noted that many Western experts "express concerns about the implications of maintaining present US policies toward the region, and about the efficacy of Islamabad's latest strategy, which appears to seek reconciliation with pro-Taliban elements."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC