Pakistan's Long Support For Militants Puts The Country In A Bind Pakistan has long supported militants fighting to its east in India and to its west in Afghanistan. The country says it's cracking down on militants, but many critics are skeptical.
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Pakistan's Long Support For Militants Puts The Country In A Bind

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Pakistan's Long Support For Militants Puts The Country In A Bind

Pakistan's Long Support For Militants Puts The Country In A Bind

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

To Pakistan now, and the tensions with India. NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre looks at how Pakistan's alleged support for militant groups is causing major problems for the country today.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, Asad Khan, says India is hastily and unfairly blaming his country for the February 14 suicide bombing that killed more than 40 security force members in the disputed Kashmir region.

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ASAD KHAN: India pointed the finger at Pakistan within minutes. The Indian government and media went into overdrive, whipping up war hysteria against Pakistan.

MYRE: However, Pakistan has hosted the radical group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, that's claiming responsibility. And here's the larger context. Pakistan has long backed militants in the neighboring states of India and Afghanistan and is now paying an increasingly heavy cost.

AHMED RASHID: It has become even clearer, I think, to the Pakistani authorities that this policy is now really not giving any dividends.

MYRE: That's author and analyst Ahmed Rashid speaking from Lahore, Pakistan via Skype. Pakistan is again in financial trouble, in urgent need of a bailout while facing a tense standoff with India and having alienated the United States.

In stark contrast, Pakistan and the U.S. had a very successful partnership in the 1980s, when they jointly backed Afghan rebels who drove the Soviet Army out of Afghanistan. It was a stunning triumph. So Pakistan then replicated this model in its feud with India over Kashmir, the Himalayan territory divided between the two countries.

SHUJA NAWAZ: The Pakistanis suddenly realized that they had this ready-made resource of the jihadi culture, the training grounds and facilities and the weaponry to be able to train people to infiltrate into Kashmir.

MYRE: Shuja Nawaz is at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

NAWAZ: The initial thinking was that this was a strategic gambit, which would allow Pakistan to continue to keep India occupied in Kashmir.

MYRE: This mountainous territory remains a flashpoint. India and Pakistan have traded air strikes and artillery across the line of control that divides Kashmir. And back when Afghanistan descended into civil war in the 1990s, Pakistan helped launch the Taliban. The group seized power in 1996 and then hosted al-Qaida. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan after the al-Qaida attacks in 2001 and soon became frustrated with Pakistan, which sometimes helps fight terrorism but also provides safe havens for extremists.

Moeed Yusuf, an analyst at the U.S. Institute of Peace, recently questioned Pakistan's Ambassador Khan about its support of militants.

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MOEED YUSUF: Isn't the finger again and again being pointed at Pakistan because of these groups? Isn't it even more necessary that this chapter close once and for all?

MYRE: Khan responded with a sweeping claim.

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KHAN: There is no organized presence of any terrorist group in Pakistan.

MYRE: But Pakistan faces deep skepticism. President Trump suspended military aid last year to the Pakistanis, and international opinion has been more sympathetic to India in the current crisis. Ahmed Rashid says Pakistan is showing signs that it will crack down on militants.

RASHID: There is now recognition that these groups are, in a way, out of control, that Pakistan has to arrest these leaders, curtail their activities and dismantle these groups.

MYRE: But Pakistan has made this pledge before and has yet to deliver. Greg Myre, NPR News, Washington.

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