US scholars say Pakistan has uneven record of supporting, targeting insurgents

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pakistan hasn't quit its habit of courting insurgents, and extremist networks with current or former ties to the government pose a significant risk to the United States and Pakistan's elected government itself, a new study concludes.

A rising number of terrorist plots in the United States with roots in Pakistan stems in part from an unsuccessful strategy by the U.S.-backed government in Pakistan to blunt the influence of militant groups in the country, the report by the RAND Corp. said.

The report to be issued Monday says the May 1 failed car bombing in New York's Times Square is an example of how militant groups, some with shadowy government backing, can increasingly export terrorism far beyond the country's borders.

The United States isn't getting its money's worth for all the billions in aid pledged to the strategically located, nuclear-armed nation, the report concludes. The U.S. should withhold some aid until Pakistan makes "discernible progress," authors Seth Jones of RAND and C. Christine Fair of Georgetown University wrote.

RAND is a nonprofit study group frequently hired by the Pentagon. The report was produced by a division of RAND that receives Pentagon funding, but was not specifically commissioned by the government.

The authors chart long government support or tolerance for some extremist or terrorist groups, including Taliban networks in the border regions near Afghanistan.

The report says the United States has had limited success in encouraging Pakistan to cut ties to extremists, while Pakistan's Army has had limited success in a series of military campaigns against extremist networks over the last year.

The report examines how Pakistan has furthered U.S. goals in hunting some terrorists and sometimes undermined U.S. interests at the same time.

It notes, as numerous U.S. leaders have done, that anti-American sentiment is high in Pakistan, while support for government campaigns against militants is low. There is enduring suspicion among government leaders that the United States has ulterior motives or is insincere in offers of help.

The United States should lessen its reliance on Pakistan where it can, the report concluded, such as seeking additional alternate land routes for resupplying the war in Afghanistan. One such alternative would be a route through Iran, the report said.

Iran and the United States have no diplomatic ties and a record of three decades of antagonistic relations. Once-promising cooperation after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 fizzled.

On the Web:

http://www.rand.org