Pakistan uses extremist groups as a hedge: US

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US Defence Secretary Robert Gates
Washington, Dec 3: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the Pakistani establishment has maintained relationship with extremist groups as a hedge.

Gates said, "They have maintained some of those contacts and those relationships, frankly, as a hedge because of their uncertainty whether the US would be a reliable partner and ally for them going forward and whether we would remain in Afghanistan until we were assured of success in taking care of the extremists."

"The Pakistanis' relationship with these groups dates back to when I was dealing with them more than 20 years ago when we were taking on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. These relationships between the Pakistanis and these groups were established then as the vehicle for taking on the Soviets," Gates said.

Responding to a question, Gates said, "I think as we make progress and as they make progress, their incentive to change this approach, to opt strategically to partner with the United States, becomes significantly more powerful."

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