Any US move to contain Pakistan could cause asymmetric retaliatory reaction, the US Senate was told as it discussed various options for rebuilding its partnership with Islamabad. In their testimonies to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, experts discussed two potentially disastrous scenarios: militants accessing nuclear weapons and groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba igniting a nuclear conflict in South Asia. Both threats necessitate America`s continued engagement with Pakistan, the experts said. “Containing Pakistan is not feasible and attempting to do so isn`t desirable. Pakistan simply has too many asymmetric retaliatory options,” said Dr Christian C. Fair, a faculty member at the Georgetown University. Senator John Kerry, who chairs the Committee and presided over the hearing, noted that another major terrorist attack in India by Lashkar-e-Taiba had the potential to destabilise South Asia. “Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad continue to launch attacks that risk sparking war between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan,” he warned, while noting that the LeT was responsible for the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. “Through its extensive alumni organisation and network of training camps throughout Pakistan, LeT could threaten the United States homeland” as well, he warned. Senator Richard Lugar, the senior Republican member of the Committee, noted that the threats described by Senator Kerry and the experts further emphasised the need for the US to stay engaged with Pakistan. “And there`s no question that the threat of these groups, combined with worries about state collapse, a Pakistani war with India, the safety of the Pakistan nuclear arsenal and Pakistan`s intersection with other states in the region, make it a strategically vital country, worth the cost of engagement,” the senator noted. Senator Lugar noted that after hearing the experts he came to the conclusion that Pakistan being “strategic threat to the United States still is not apparent”. The experts, he noted had mentioned various scenarios such as “an unstable state or – at least some way in which terrorists gain access – whoever might be their nationality, to fissile material or other aspects of that, could pose a strategic danger to the United States”. Dr Fair, while discussing these scenarios, said that the US should work to contain the threats of various militant groups, instead of trying to contain the Pakistani state.
By: Dawn News