A former CIA official has said Pakistan was “nearly placed” on the list of state sponsors of terrorism during 1993 to 1994.
“At the start of the (Bill) Clinton administration, in 1993 and 1994, I was a special assistant to the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, on loan from CIA, deeply involved in an annual terrorism review which nearly resulted in Pakistan’s being placed on the formal list of state sponsors of terrorism,” Robert L Grenier, a former CIA official told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing on Pakistan.
Grenier said that over the past five decades, the US has been willing, episodically to overlook its concerns with aspects of Pakistani behaviour and to subordinate those concerns in the face of what have appeared, at the time, to be overriding national security priorities only to revert to a more contentious relationship when those interests no longer pertained.
“Thus, in the 1980s, the US was willing not only to overlook growing evidence of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme in deference to joint US-Pak support to the anti- Soviet Afghan Mujahiddin, but also to provide Pakistan with generous economic and military rewards in the bargain,” he said.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 attacks, needing a platform for operations in Afghanistan and a partner to intercept al-Qaeda militants fleeing that country, the US was again willing to subordinate its broader concerns with Pakistani-based militancy in Kashmir and with Pakistan’s ambivalent attitude toward the Afghan Taliban, he said.
Pakistan has clung stubbornly to its own perceptions of national interest, and refused to compromise them even when it seemed irrational or self-defeating to US eyes, he said.
He also said the same has happened in the context of nuclear weapons doctrine, in its assessment of the threat from India, or in its calculus regarding both foreign and domestic militant groups.
Pakistani adherence to its perceived interests, in fact, has persisted, irrespective of US-administered punishments or inducements, Greiner said.
However, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad, warned the lawmakers against taking any punitive action or sanctions against Pakistan. In fact he encouraged that the US should help Pakistan maintain a large conventional armed forces.
“Pakistan’s conventional military forces will need to be maintained if we are to avoid quick recourse to nuclear weapons at a time when Kashmir remains a social and political tinderbox, and the threat of Indo-Pak war still hangs like an incubus across the region,” he said.
“The US dares not turn its back on Pakistan as it seeks to protect its serious national security interests in South-Central Asia,” Grenier said.