‘Getting ISI to end support to militants difficult’

April 11th, 2009 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 11 (IANS) Noting that for the Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) India remains the security priority, a US expert has expressed doubts about the success of the Obama administration’s new Afghanistan-Pakistan policy.
The new policy “plans to hurl a lifeline to the government of Pakistan,” wrote Sundaa Bridgett Jones, an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a leading Washington think tank, in an article in “The Root.”

“It is an ambitious plan,” outlining increased counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency assistance to Pakistan’s security forces to “disrupt, dismantle and destroy” Al Qaeda and its allies operating in safe havens in Pakistan, “but what are the chances of its success?” she asked.

Jones wondered if anything had changed in Pakistan’s strategic security calculations that would allow the US to believe that this new strategy can be effective.

“The stakes are high,” she said noting “Pakistan is a weak state, described by one expert as a ‘hot house’ for terrorists. It has approximately 60 nuclear weapons, when just one is more than enough to wreak havoc.”

“The new US policy precariously assumes that Pakistan shares the same priorities. The daunting complexity of the situation obscures Pakistan’s true interests and motives,” Jones said.

The main problem is trying to decipher the tensions and the alliances between and among the various stakeholders - the party in power, the party out of power, the Inter-Services Intelligence, the military, the militants and the Pakistani people, she said.

“For the military and Inter-Services Intelligence, India remains the security priority, Jones said.

“Among those who know well the historic enmity between Pakistan and India, one would be hard pressed to find an optimist who thinks diplomacy or international pressure could lead to Indian concessions on Kashmir or force Delhi to ratchet down its engagement in Afghanistan.”

“Getting parts of the Pakistan military to switch gears from conventional warfare to counterinsurgency strategies will be less complicated than getting Inter-Services Intelligence to end its support of militants at whom such a

counterinsurgency effort would be aimed,” she said.

“The Obama policy is grounded in realism; it concedes that the “danger of failure is real,” Jones said. “And though the difficult security calculations remain, perhaps the best we can hope for is that Pakistan and the US clearly share one common interest: to avoid a failed Pakistani state at all costs.”

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