Washington: The US has anticipated that Pakistan will continue developing cruise missiles and close-range "battlefield" nuclear weapons to augment its existing ballistic missiles, a top US intelligence official has said.
"Pakistan continues to take steps to improve security of its nuclear arsenal. We anticipate that Pakistan will continue development of new delivery systems, including cruise missiles and close-range 'battlefield' nuclear weapons to augment its existing ballistic missiles," Lt Gen Vincent R Stewart, Director of Defence Intelligence Agency told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing on global threat assessment.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Stewart said Pakistan's Army and paramilitary forces remain deployed in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Army ground operations in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) have cleared anti-state militants from most population centres. "We expect the military will continue targeting remaining militant strongholds in 2015," he said.
The December 2014 Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attack against the Army-run school in Peshawar that killed more than 140 people, mostly children, has emboldened military efforts against anti-state militants, including intensified airstrikes against TTP leadership and fighters, he said.
The government and military are also working together to implement a national action plan against terrorism, which includes the establishment of military courts, he added.
"Despite ongoing military operations, Pakistan will continue to face internal security threats from militant, sectarian, and separatist groups. Additionally, Pakistan remains concerned about ISIL outreach and propaganda in South Asia," the intelligence official said.
On Afghanistan, Stewart said the still-developing Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) remain stalemated with the Taliban-led insurgency.
“In 2015 we expect the ANSF to maintain stability and security in Kabul and key urban areas while retaining freedom of movement on major highways. However, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and their extremist allies will likely seek to exploit the reduced Coalition presence by pressuring ANSF units in rural areas, conducting high profile attacks in major population centres, and expanding their safe havens," he said.