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'Pak to continue to increase N-arsenal, support proxies'

February 14, 2013 15:30 IST

Instead of trying to benefit from India's economic growth, Pakistan is expected to continue with its anti-India narrative by not only continuing to build up its nuclear arsenal, but also support terrorist outfits as proxies, American lawmakers have been told

"I believe that Pakistan will continue doing what they've been doing for the last several years is a much more severe acceleration of their nuclear deterrent," Frank Hoffman, senior research fellow at the prestigious National Defense University, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.

"The scale in terms of size, population and economic clout of India is very daunting to Pakistan, and their idea of their national narrative is that they're overwhelmed, and it gives them a justification to invest in nuclear materials.

"They'll still also support on their perimeters the kind of alliances and proxy forces that they've had in the past, which are largely terroristic in nature," he said.

Hoffman made remarks in response to a question from Republican Congressman Rich Nugent from Florida.

"India is on track to have an economy I believe 16 times that of Pakistan. And so how do we expect Pakistan to react to that in the climate that they're in? Do you think they're going to promote a broader terrorist activity to try to counter India's growing powers, related to financially?" he asked.

Hoffman replied, "I think they're trying to. I think the ports of activity in Karachi and the southern half definitely would benefit from economic development, exports and imports.

And that would be an approach to take with them, but I think that the overwhelming national narrative and the scale of their relationship with India is still going to lean them towards retaining something that is the ultimate high ground for them, nuclear or some other means."

Testifying before the Congressional sub-committee, David Berteau, senior vice president and director of International Security Programme, Center for Strategic and International Studies, argued the case for economic integration of the region so as to benefit from India's economic growth.

"I think one of the lesser understood elements of that is the economic growth and the potential value and the need for the United States to be both aligning itself with and actually  investing intellectually and sometimes from a capital point of view," he said.

"One of the unsung benefits of the way in which we've been evolving the economic strategy in Afghanistan over the last couple of years is to take advantage of Indian  investment in Afghanistan to bring the Pakistanis into a better economic relationship, not cross- border but in a regional sense," Berteau said.

"Things such as the TAPI pipeline, the Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India pipeline, goes a long way towards creating some of that economic integration that's very difficult to do," he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington