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Af-Pak Hearing: How to Trust the Pakistanis?

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) asks a critical question: given the links between some elements in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency and elements of the Taliban and other extremists, how can the United States really give increased military and intelligence aid to Pakistan? Won’t it end up, at least in part, aiding the stated enemies here?

Gen. David Petraeus fields the answer. The whole strategy depends on building trust between the United States and Pakistan. “This all starts with them embracing the idea that the biggest threat to their country is the internal extremist threat rather than the threat to the east,” he says, referring to Pakistan’s historical enemy India. “They have stated that openly, and we have heard it privately. We have to watch that. The metrics have to be measures of their commitment to this threat that could literally take down their state.”

More specifically, Petraeus paints a nuanced picture of the ISI’s links to extremism. “There are accusations, frankly, some when you dig into them seem to be more ambiguous than on the surface but some of them are not,” he says. Such ambiguities include “intelligence agency contacts [with extremists] to build a source, and on the other hand, intelligence agency contacts warning [Pakistan] of impending operations. There have been examples of latter” and they’re “troubling.” He says he and other U.S. officials have discussed them with the ISI chief, Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

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