"Tension between India and Pakistan continue to threaten regional stability and largely drives Pakistan's regional strategy, especially as it relates to Afghanistan," US Central Command Chief General Lloyd Austin said while testifying before the Congress's House Armed Services Committee.
He said the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan had created an opportunity to "normalize" America's relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan. "This may encourage the two countries to find common ground in countering the violent extremist organizations operating in their border region," general said.
He said the US was working towards facilitating implementation of confidence building measures between Pakistan and Afghanistan to further reduce border tensions and increase military cooperation between them.
"Our desired end-state is a stable sub-region characterised by a low risk of conventional or nuclear war with regional states committed to non-interference with respect to their neighbors' internal affairs, the denial of sanctuary for violent extremist organistaions (VEOs), and the non-proliferation of WMD," the US CENTCOM chief said.
The general said, "We will maintain a unilateral capacity to conduct CT operations against high-value targets and groups in the region that pose a threat to the US or our core national interests."
He said the US would also work to improve military- to-military relationships by facilitating more frequent contact among the region's military leadership by encouraging multilateral training and operations. Gen Austin said that while militants were present in the border areas, Pakistan had been taking action against them.
Violent extremist organizations continue to operate in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of eastern Afghanistan. These groups threaten regional stability, plan attacks against the US and partner interests, and pursue weapons of mass destruction (WMD), he said.