WASHINGTON: In a hearing of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, members of the US intelligence committee said it was important to have positive relations with Pakistan.
The hearing, attended by leaders of the US intelligence community including the heads of the CIA and National Intelligence, focused on worldwide threats in 2012.
In his submitted remarks to the committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “We judge al Qaida operatives are balancing support for attacks in Pakistan with guidance to refocus the global jihad externally against US targets. Al Qaida will increasingly rely on ideological and operational alliances with Pakistani militant factions to accomplish its goals with Pakistan and to conduct transnational attacks. Pakistan military leaders have had limited success against al Qaida operatives, other foreign fighters and Pakistani militants who pose a threat to Islamabad.”
Clapper added that the intelligence community anticipates that with sustained counterterrorism pressure, the core group of al Qaida will “suffer sustained degradation, diminished cohesion and decreasing influence in the coming year.” In his written remarks, he said Pakistan’s government has been unable to persuade coalition members to agree on policy and tax reforms, and Pakistan’s “economy recovery is at risk.”
Clapper, in response to a question on US-Pakistan relations, said that they agreed that relations with Pakistan should remain positive, however he added that their interests sometimes differed, and Pakistan considered India as an existential threat.
Acknowledging relations with Pakistan had become strained after the November 26 incident that led to the death of Pakistani soldiers, CIA Director General (retd.) David Petraeus said that there were domestic tensions in the country, including tensions between the Supreme Court, Pakistani military, ISI director and the Pakistani government. However, Petraeus noted that these tensions might be decreasing, especially in light of former Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani being allowed to leave the country. He added that the US needed engagement and diplomacy in improving relations with Pakistan.
The spy chief added that on the level of intelligence services, relations with Pakistan were productive and communication was still going on.
Senator Saxby Chambliss, vice-chairman of the committee, asked the intelligence leaders what was being done about safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan. NI Director James Clapper replied that they were talking to Pakistan about it, while CIA Director David Petraeus said that in October, they had “captured or killed” four al Qaeda leaders, which was also due to some co-operation with Pakistan. He added that while Pakistan had conducted operations in FATA and Swat, they had not pressured the Haqqani Network or Mullah Nazir’s group, nor pressured those present in Balochistan.