Washington, Jan 6: Pakistan's continued tolerance of terror groups like the Taliban, LeT and Haqqani network is a major impediment in US-Pakistan ties, an American expert on counter-terrorism has said.
"Pakistan's policy towards terrorist groups is the major impediment towards US-Pak relationship," Stephen Tankel from the American University told a Washington audience on Wednesday.
Since 2005, he said Pakistan has decreased its efforts against al-Qaeda and foreign fighters. "Pakistan has not only preserved Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, but it has also continued to preserve and tolerate groups like LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba)," Tankel said at the Woodrow Wilson Center during a panel discussion on 'The Pakistani Taliban: Down, But not out?'.
Tankel said these networks have infrastructure in areas like Punjab and Sindh provinces which can be used by other terrorist groups when they are pushed out of the tribal areas.
He was of the view that the counter-terrorism operation by Pakistani forces in the tribal areas might not have achieved its goal and that there is a greater chance of them coming back into action.
Pakistan armed forces stationed in these areas help maintain peace in the region. Mona Kanwal Sheikh, senior researcher at Danish Institute for International Studies and author of Guardians of God -- Inside the Religious Mind of the Pakistani Taliban, said that the massive presence of the army has mobilised the militants and the local population.
"It is a same situation as Indian Kashmir of a strong military presence... army cannot solve problems alone," she said. Pakistani Army operation in the tribal areas could be an issue in the tribal areas, Sheikh said.
Pakistani Taliban is helping the Afghan Taliban and at some time, they would refocus on Pakistan again. There are a lot of propaganda material, there are graffiti on the wall in support of ISIS in areas like Balochistan, Sheikh added.