Pakistan focus on internal terror threats causes concern in US

Pakistani troops have been carrying out "selective counterinsurgency operations" within the restive provinces that buffer the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Those operations are strictly focused on eliminating the threat posed to Pakistan alone, according to a recent Pentagon report chronicling American and NATO operations in Afghanistan. 

"The Pakistani military targets those militants which they believe pose a direct threat to the Pakistani government as opposed to those who they believe are focused primarily on Afghanistan," a State Department official told reporters on Tuesday at the Pentagon. 

According to the report, Pakistan's strict focus on internal terror threats has created an atmosphere of "pervasive mistrust and divergent strategic interests" between Kabul and Islamabad, the capital cities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, respectively.

"It's Pakistan's duty as a responsible international country to control all violence that emanates from its borders into other areas. And we continue to urge them to do so," a Pentagon official said during the same Tuesday briefing at DOD.  

Those safe havens being used by the Taliban and the Haqqani terror group" without any Pakistani effort to control them" remains one of the top threats to the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe Congress dangerously wields its oversight power in Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate MORE (D-Mich.) said Wednesday.

That said, Pakistan's limited counterterrorism campaign is having an effect on terror groups operating in Afghanistan, the State Department official noted. 

Groups like the Haqqani network, al Qaeda and the Taliban are essentially a "syndicate of extremist" who efforts are linked in some form or fashion, "even though one group may be more focused on Pakistan than Afghanistan," according to the official. 

"Given the links [between] them, pressure anywhere on the syndicate is positive," the State Department official said. 

"When they go after ... the groups that are focused on Pakistan, that degrades the overall ability of the syndicate," the official explained. "And [that] does contribute to a more secure Afghanistan, even if they only go after those groups."