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General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of US troops in Afghanistan, has said there is no evidence of Pakistan playing a double game and supporting terrorists in Afghanistan. Petraeus’ remarks are now particularly significant given the fact that he is on a short list of President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominees for Secretary of State. He was answering a question posed to him at a presentation at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British security think tank based in London.

Is Pakistan Duplicitous?

The question was asked by a female Afghan Ph.D. student at the end of remarks by the general on “Security Challenges Facing the Next US Administration”. Here’s the question:

“General you have stated that democracies can not win long wars (General Petraeus interrupted and said he did not say that and added “in fact I take issue with that” as the student continued). Afghanistan is now US’s longest war. What stops the US to win the long war..whether Pakistan intelligence is the cause of the long war? Why does the US not take action against the Pakistan ISI which continues killing and supporting terrorists?”

General David H. Petraeus’s response:

Here’s part of Gen Petraeus’ response: “I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA)…. I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)”.

Gen Petraeus did acknowledge that “there’s communication between the ISI and various militant groups in FATA and Balochistan (Haqqanis, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, etc) but some of it you’d do anyway as an intelligence service.” He added that “there may be some degree of accommodation that is forced on them (Pakistanis) because of the limits of their (Pakistan’s) forces.”

US-Pakistan Ties:

On the question of the nature of US-Pakistan relations and Washington’s influence in Islamabad, General Petraeus said:

“Some people say Pakistan is a frenemy…it is just very very difficult to pin down (blame on Pakistan) and it’s even more difficult to figure out how to exert leverage that in a meaningful way resolves the issue.  There was a period when we cut off all assistance and ties (to Pakistan) and held up F-16s that we were supposed to deliver for a while and that did not help our influence there (in Pakistan). It’s a very very tough situation and it may be among the top two or three challenges for the new administration right up there with Syria”.

General Petraeus acknowledged Pakistan’s cooperation and sacrifices in fighting terror in the following words:

“Pakistan Army suffered casualties and had limited Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities though the US did try to help and there existed enormous amount of cooperation between the two militaries. However, the unfortunate episodes of Raymond Davis and publications of book by Bob Woodward and WikiLeaks did impact negatively on this cooperation”.

Summary:

General David H. Petraeus has thoroughly debunked intense and ongoing media propaganda campaign of allegations of duplicity against Pakistan Army and ISI. He has also ruled out cutting ties with Pakistan as an option. His recommendations have now assumed added significance because he is now on a short list of President-Elect Trump’s nominees for secretary of state.

Here’s the video of General Petraeus at RUSI. His remarks on Pakistan are in the last 8 minutes of the video: