US support for Pakistan questioned
Study group says military aid should be curbed until Pakistan stops backing 'militants'.
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2010 08:05 GMT
Rand said the US should limit its reliance on Pakistan and seek other routes for Afghanistan supplies [EPA]

The US should restrict military assistance to Pakistan until Islamabad ends its support for armed groups operating on its territory, US researchers have said.

The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit study group frequently hired by the Pentagon, said an unsuccessful strategy in combating these groups was partly to blame for an increase in attack plots in the US.

While Pakistan has had some success halting militant groups since 2001, these groups continue to present a significant threat to not only Pakistan, but to the United States and a host of other countries as well," said Seth G Jones, the co-author of the report released on Monday.

"A number of militant networks - including al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad - remain entrenched in Pakistan and pose a grave threat to the state and the region."

The US has linked several plots of attacks on its soil to networks in Pakistan, including the May attempt to bomb Times Square in New York.

'Funding continues'

Rand said Pakistani leaders continue to provide support to some groups.

It said the country's acquisition of nuclear weapons "emboldened its support to militant groups by dampening concerns of retaliation by India".

However, the policy backfired after the attacks in the US on September 11, 2001, when groups including the Pakistani Taliban started a bloody campaign in Pakistan.

Last week, a report by the London School of Economics claimed that Pakistan's intelligence service has a direct link with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"Pakistan has long used support of militant groups as a foreign policy tool."

Seth G Jones, Rand researcher

The report said Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) provides funding and training for the Taliban, and that the agency has representatives on the so-called Quetta Shura, the Taliban's leadership council, which is believed to meet in Pakistan.

"Pakistan has long used its support of militant groups as a foreign policy tool, so ending that will take time," Jones said.

"US leaders need to work with Pakistan on a timeline with measurable benchmarks for success, as well as the establishment of an enforcement mechanism through intelligence collection.

"Military aid should be conditioned on success in meeting these objectives."

The Rand study further concluded that the US should lessen its reliance on Pakistan where it can.

One area where alternatives can be sought is the use of Pakistan as a route for supplies to the foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Nato transports nearly 50 per cent of its supplies through Pakistan from the port city of Karachi and lorries carrying goods are attacked regularly.

Rand said alternatives land routes could be through Iran and Central Asia.

Al Jazeera
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