Washington, Feb 27: The US cannot reassure Pakistan against any Indian threat if it fails to commit itself towards working against anti-India terrorist groups operating within its territory, two US experts on South Asian issues have told American lawmakers.
"If Pakistan can't commit itself to working against the terrorists that have operated in India, then there's not much we can do to reassure them," George Perkovich, vice president for Studies Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said during a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.
Responding to questions from lawmakers, Perkovich said the good news is India has no desires for any Pakistani territory or anything in Pakistan. "So 'threat' from India is only in response to Pakistani aggression in India or terrorism in India," he said.
"That's a basis for the US, in our relations with the Pakistanis, to say, "Look. If we can cooperate at getting at the terrorism problem within Pakistan, what you're worried about for India goes away, number one. And number two, the influence that we might have in India can help reassure you of that," he said.
Testifying before the same committee, Ashley Tellis from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said while there was much enthusiasm in the Pak Army to take action against those terrorist groups that they perceive is a threat to Pakistan, the same can't be said about anti-India terrorist groups.
"What we are certainly seeing is that the Pakistan army seems to be much more energised about going after terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc within Pakistan. That is welcome, and of course it has been long overdue," Tellis said.
He said the question was whether Pakistanis will not extend this effort to groups that do not directly threaten Pakistan, but threaten others like Afghanistan, US forces in Afghanistan and India. "Thus far we've seen a very energetic Pakistani response to their own state enemies, and all things being equal, we would want to see that rather than the absence," he said.
"I think we would declare victory only when Pakistanis begin to think of terrorism in a sort of broader context, and begin to focus their attention on all terrorist groups, and not pick and choose between groups that support their interests," Tellis said.