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Pakistan Warns US to End 'Negative Messaging' on Militancy

September 27, 2011

VOA News

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has warned the United States that it must end "negative messaging" accusing Pakistan of supporting militant attacks in Afghanistan.

In an interview with Reuters news agency published Tuesday, Mr. Gilani said such accusations will only exacerbate anti-American feelings in his country.

He also said any unilateral U.S. military action to hunt down Haqqani network militants inside Pakistan, similar to the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in May, which Washington carried out without Islamabad's knowledge, would be a violation of his country's sovereignty.

Earlier, Mr. Gilani said he had asked Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who is attending the U.N. General Assembly session in New York, to "forcefully present Pakistan's point of view" when she addresses world leaders Tuesday.

Mr. Gilani's statements come a day after Pakistani military officials said Islamabad has decided not to target the Haqqani network because its military is already stretched too thin battling other militants elsewhere in northwestern Pakistan.

Last week, the outgoing chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said that the Haqqani group was a "veritable arm" of the Pakistani spy agency. He blamed its fighters for a deadly assault on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, as well as an attack on a NATO base in Afghanistan earlier this month.

Pakistan has repeatedly rejected the allegations, and on Tuesday, the Taliban said in an online statement that it, not Pakistan, controls the Haqqani network.

The Taliban said there are no ties between the Haqqani network and Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI, and that Haqqani fighters do not seek refuge in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region, as Washington claims.

The Taliban statement also said attempts to link the Haqqani network's founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani, to the Pakistani government were an attempt to "give a bad name to our prominent figures" by tying them to foreign intelligence services.

Since the killing of bin Laden, U.S.-Pakistani relations have suffered as Washington continues to push Islamabad to do more in its fight against militants.

Some U.S. lawmakers took the fact that bin Laden was sheltering in a Pakistani military garrison town near the capital as a sign of some level of Pakistani support to terrorists. Such suspicions have dogged the U.S.-Pakistani relationship since the start of the war on terror a decade ago.

On Tuesday, The New York Times quoted Afghan officials and an unnamed United Nations official in detailing a 2007 ambush reportedly launched by Pakistani soldiers against American and Afghan officers after a meeting on a border dispute. The ambush killed an American major and wounded three American officers, along with their Afghan interpreter.

While the Pakistani government attributed the attack to a rogue soldier after first blaming militants, the newspaper quoted American officials familiar with Pakistan as saying the attack fits an apparent pattern of retribution that Pakistan takes for losses suffered in accidental attacks by U.S. forces.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.


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