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Pentagon Report: Pakistan Uses Militants for Proxy War with India
Nov 12, 2014

The Pentagon, in a report running into more than 100 pages, accused Pakistan of being a safe haven for terrorists targeting both India and Afghanistan, and told the US Congress that Pakistan used these tactics to counter the superior Indian forces.

The Pentagon report says Pakistan uses Afghan- and Indian-focused militants operating from its territory to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India's superior military. Pakistan's military made gains against the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and foreign fighters in the FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during a major military operation. But Afghan- and Indian-focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability, Pentagon said in the six-monthly report titled Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan.

It said, Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India's superior military, confirming only what is widely known. These relationships run counter to Pakistan's public commitment to support Afghan-led reconciliation. Such groups continue to act as the primary irritant in Afghan-Pakistan bilateral relations. Although stability in Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan, Pakistan also seeks sufficient Pashtun representation in the Afghan government to prevent Pashtun discontent along the Afghan-Pakistan border and limit India's influence.

The report noted that the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's Herat province was attacked by a group of four heavily armed militants last May, three days prior to the swearing in of the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  As he is "perceived as being close to Hindu nationalist groups", it may have played into the timing of the attack.

In June, the US State department announced that the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, was also responsible for the Afghan attack. While the Pakistan government has sought to increase engagement with Afghanistan, suspicion has surrounded the relationship between Kabul and Islamabad, inhibiting bilateral cooperation on border security protocols.

On the other hand, the report noted, the Indian government continues to support the Afghan government believing a secure and stable Afghanistan will benefit the region and facilitate economic corridors into Central Asia. Engagements between India and Afghanistan since the signing of a strategic partnership declaration in 2011 are reinforcing the positive relationship between Afghanistan and India. India has shown increased interest in Afghan security assistance, though activities in this area remain limited.

While India does not provide direct military support or training in Afghanistan, but currently offers India-based training to Afghan National Security Force personnel across a number of specialties. The Indian government is committed to expand this programme.India also supports a variety of high-visibility projects and initiatives in Afghanistan. These ventures are focused primarily on major infrastructure projects, including electricity generation and transmission, road construction, and mining.

Pakistan Protests Pentagon Report: Pakistan took serious exception to the Pentagon report critical of Islamabad, including its ‘unsubstantiated allegations’ of the existence of terrorist ‘sanctuaries’ or that proxy forces were operating from Pakistan against Afghanistan and India. Pakistan said, "Such allegations are of particular concern at this point when Pakistan government has launched comprehensive operations against militants in North Waziristan.”

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