‘Peshawar attack may not change Pak’s ties with terror groups’

Washington: The terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar that shocked the entire world is unlikely to change Pakistan’s policy of strategic ties with terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), an American expert on South Asia has said.

“This attack on a school, as horrible as it is, doesn’t necessarily change the Pakistani strategic calculation about the value of its continued relationship with some of these other groups,” said Daniel Markey, senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Markey said India has a reason to be concerned about Pakistan’s continued relationship with LeT in particular or with any successor organisation that would share similar goals or aspirations but come under a different name.

Even during this past several months or six months or so of hard fighting by the Pakistani military in North Waziristan against the Pakistani Taliban, LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, was freely roaming around the country, Markey said.

“So, Pakistan has a lot of friends when it comes to confronting that threat. If only Pakistan could realise the kind of friends it would have if it chose to go after these other organisations as well, I think we’d all be in a better place,” Markey said in response to a question.

The top American expert on South Asia, however, argued against any tough conditional aid on Pakistan, and wants the US aid to flow in.

“Keep a degree of money flowing to, and also more importantly in some ways, technical assistance and technologies flowing in a way that would help them address common threats like the Pakistani Taliban,” he said.

“Determine what the appropriate level of funding for that would be and set that aside and protect it as long as they continue to do those things. Now they will because they’re in a common interest,” he added.

But one needs “to make sure that you’re hitting it in the right places, and I think you also probably want to do it in a way that doesn’t jeopardize areas where we have a common interest. That is, if you want to condition military assistance, don’t threaten it all,” Markey said.

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