The growing relationship between Afghanistan and India has been driving the Pakistanis crazy and mounts their concern of being "surrounded," a former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency's Pakistan station has said, warning that Pakistan was unlikely to change its policy towards India.
"They're concerned about being surrounded. They see a close relationship between the government in Kabul and India, and it literally drives them crazy," Robert Grenier, former CIA station chief in Pakistan told lawmakers in Washington.
"I don't think there's any question they would shift policy there," Grenier, an ex Director of DCI Counterterrorism Center, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "When you add Afghanistan into the equation and the strategic concerns that Pakistanis have with the government in Kabul, it becomes more complicated still," he said.
He said in case "a substantial draw-down" of US involvement in Afghanistan leads to a recurrence of the civil war between a Taliban-dominated Pashtun population and the ethnic minorities, Pakistanis would see their national interest in support of the Afghan Taliban.
"Under those circumstances and with a diminished US pressure on them, focused on preserving our troops and stopping cross-border attacks... it would be very easy for the Pakistanis to devolve along the path of least resistance... and to try to strike some sort of separate peace, at least with those elements that don't directly threaten them," Grenier said. "That would put us overall in a strategic situation which would not be at all positive," Grenier observed.
He said the US needs to be in a position where it can deny al Qaeda an uncontested safe haven."I don't think that the Pakistanis are going to be able in the short term to exert a level of control in the tribal territories that will preclude al Qaeda from being able to operate there," he said.
Grenier said with US assistance, Pakistan can make things problematic for al Qaeda and "with a wink and a nod, there are some things that perhaps we can do unilaterally provided that we have a base in Afghanistan". He said both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the job involves as much political and economic development as military action.
"I think we need to be very realistic about what's going to be required, and if we don't think that we can sustain those costs, then maybe we need to rethink this entire enterprise," he told the American Senators.