Washington, Feb 26: Pakistan will continue to provide safe havens to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), an internationally- banned terrorist group, thus remaining a major irritant in ties with India, a top American spy master said today.
"Pakistan's provision of safe haven to Lashkar-e-Taiba will probably continue to be a key irritant in relations with India," James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, said in his testimony on "World Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community" before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Pakistan, he said, will probably continue to implement some economic reforms and target anti-Pakistan militants and their activities. "(Pak) Prime Minister (Nawaz) Sharif's promises to address economic, energy, and security issues almost certainly fell short of high public expectations.
Furthermore, his standing weakened when he reportedly asked the army to step in and handle opposition protests in late 2014," he said. "We assess that Islamabad will approve some additional economic reforms in 2015.
Undertaking future economic and energy reforms will be more challenging and will probably face greater political and popular opposition," he added. Clapper said the Pakistan government will probably focus in 2015 on diminishing the capabilities of the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) which claimed the attack on a school in December that left over 130 children dead.
"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," he said.
Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Pakistan Army ground operations in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) have cleared anti-state militants from most population centres. "We expect the military will continue targeting remaining militant strongholds in 2015," he said.
"The December 2014 Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's (TTP) Peshawar attack against the army-run school that killed more than 150 people, mostly children, spurred the government and military to implement a national action plan against terrorism, including the establishment of military courts," he noted.
"Despite ongoing military operations, Pakistan will continue to face internal security threats from militant, sectarian, and separatist groups and remains concerned about ISIL outreach and propaganda in South Asia," Stewart said.