US senator finds ISI-Taliban ties ‘troubling’

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : An influential US senator says it has been difficult for the US to build trust with Pakistan’s military and intelligence services because ties between Islamabad’s spy agency ISI and Taliban remain troubling.

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“We need to fix this relationship,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Democratic Chairman John Kerry said at a Congressional hearing Thursday on “Afghanistan’s Impact on Pakistan”:

The US Congress had taken a “major step” in doing so with the passage of a legislation to triple non-military assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year for the next five years, he said.

“This is a landmark achievement, but it is not a panacea,” he said suggesting the legislation “signals our determination to put our relationship on a new foundation, with the aspirations of the Pakistani people front and centre.”

“It’s no secret that the relationship between our countries has suffered its share of strains,” Kerry said.

“Many Pakistanis believe the United States has exploited them for strategic goals,” he said noting a recent survey by the Pew Research Centre found that two out of three Pakistanis regard the United States as an enemy. Only one in 10 describe the US as a partner.

“From our side, it has been difficult to build trust with Pakistan’s military and intelligence services over the years because our interests have not always been aligned and because ties between the ISI and Taliban remain troubling,” Kerry said.

President Barack Obama and his team are working to develop the right strategy for Afghanistan, Kerry said. “But let me be clear: No matter what strategy we adopt, it must recognize that the actions we take in Afghanistan will have direct repercussions in Pakistan.”