Pakistan’s continued provision of a safe haven to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) will probably continue to be a key irritant in Indo-Pak relations, Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper claimed in his testimony on "World Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community" which he presented Thursday in a hearing of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee.
India recognises the proscribed militant group LeT as a major threat to regional security and has accused its chief Hafiz Saeed of masterminding the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Saeed, who now leads the banned organisation Jamaatud Dawa (JUD), has denied any links to terrorist activities or having any association with LeT.
‘PM Nawaz’s promises fell short’
During his testimony, American spy chief Clapper commented on the progress made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government in addressing local issues. He said PM Nawaz’s pledges to tackle energy, economic and security issues in the country “fell short of high public expectations”.
Clapper further said that the premier's standing weakened when he reportedly sought the Pakistani Army’s assistance to handle the protracted opposition protests in the second half of 2014.
Islamabad will have trouble undertaking reforms
The former Lt Gen of US Air Force, while indicating in his testimony the steps that are likely to be taken by the Pakistani government in the future, stated: “Pakistan will probably continue to implement some economic reforms”.
Clapper and his fellow analysts believe that Islamabad will approve some additional economic reforms in 2015 but undertaking energy and economic reforms in the future will not be devoid of challenges and is likely to face opposition from the popular and political fronts.
Pakistan to 'probably' focus on combating militants in 2015
Predicting the future implications of the current security crisis in Pakistan on its leadership, Clapper said that Pakistan is likely to “target anti-Pakistan militants and their activities” in the upcoming days.
“The Pakistani government will probably focus in 2015 on diminishing the capabilities of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which claimed the attack on a [Army Public] school in December— leaving over 100 children dead,” he further said.
Distrust to impact Pak-Afghan ties substantially
Clapper acknowledged in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan is aiming to foster a positive relationship with the newly-elected government of neighbouring Afghanistan.
However, he appeared pessimistic about any significant progress in that realm. “We judge that Pakistan will aim to establish positive rapport with the new Afghan government, but longstanding distrust and unresolved disputes between the countries will prevent substantial progress.”
DG ISI General Rizwan Akhtar in USA for strategic talks
Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar left for USA Wednesday on his first ever visit to hold talks with top US intelligence officials on regional security, Afghanistan and counter terrorism.
"During the visit he will meet his counterparts and discuss issues related to intelligence," the ISPR spokesman said.
According to sources, Gen Rizwan will meet senior officials at the National Security Council (NSC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Chief John O. Brennan.