Pakistan hits back at US
Islamabad - Pakistan's prime minister said US allegations that his country is helping a militant group attack targets in Afghanistan are a sign of American "policy disarray," stepping up a war of words that has exposed the vulnerabilities in the two countries' nominal anti-terror alliance.
Yousuf Raza Gilani's statement late on Saturday was the latest from Pakistani leaders to indicate Islamabad was not planning to act on renewed American demands to attack the Haqqani network, even at the risk of further conflict with Washington, the country's major donor.
"We strongly reject assertions of complicity with the Haqqanis or of proxy war," he said. "The allegations betray a confusion and policy disarray within the US establishment on the way forward in Afghanistan.
Pakistan claimed to have severed its ties with Afghan militants after the 9/11 attacks and supported America's campaign in Afghanistan, but US officials have long suspected it maintained links. Last week, Washington dramatically upped the allegations, signalling a shift in its approach to Pakistan, which it has previously tried to avoid publicly shaming in the hope of securing its co-operation.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan's premier spy agency of supporting Haqqani insurgents in planning and executing last week's 22-hour assault on the US Embassy in Afghanistan and a truck bombing that wounded 77 American soldiers days earlier.
Despite the seriousness of the claim, which appears to accuse Pakistan of state-sponsored terrorism, Mullen, like other US officials, said Washington needed to keep engaging with Islamabad, a reflection of its limited options in dealing with the nuclear-armed state.
Around half of the US war supplies to Afghanistan are trucked over Pakistani soil, and even as it accuses Islamabad of complicity with Afghan insurgents, Washington knows that it will likely need Islamabad's co-operation in bringing them to the negotiating table.
Gilani also called for greater cooperation.
"Let's avoid mutual recrimination and recommit ourselves to working together for eliminating terrorism and for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan," he said.