US fires fresh salvo at Pakistan, tells it to rein in ISI
PTI | Sep 24, 2011, 07.18PM IST
WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: Brushing aside Islamabad's rebuttal, the US has fired fresh salvos charging Pakistan's military-run ISI of not only supporting the Haqqani terror network but also 'encouraging' it to launch more brazen strikes on American installations in Afghanistan.
Demanding a "strong and immediate action" against the outfit, US officials said Haqqani group's activities have become "more brazen, more aggressive and more lethal".
Captain John Kirby, spokesperson of Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, told Pentagon reporters last evening that there has been a long-standing historical relationship between the ISI and extremist groups.
Kirby said: "There has been a lot of activity over the course of this summer - the hotel attack in Kabul, Wardak truck bomb, attack on the embassy and others smaller level operations. It has been a very busy summer for the Haqqani network. It has gone worse."
He added "Their (Haqqani's) activities have become more brazen, more aggressive and more lethal. Information has become more available that these attacks have been supported or encouraged by the ISI. The Chairman (Mullen) just had the conversation with (Pakistan army chief) General (Ashfaq Parvez) Kayani last week in Spain. He said this because this is the truth."
"All I can tell you that we are confident that the ISI continues to support and even encourages the Haqqanis to launch these attacks. I am not going into, at this point, specifics of the intelligence that we have about the support they have we believe," he said.
However, Kirby said Mullen has not spoken to Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Pavrvez Kayani after his Congressional testimony on Thursday in which he described the Haqqani network as a "veritable arm" of the ISI.
US remarks unfortunate: Kayani
The war of words between Pakistan and the US on the ISI's alleged links with the Haqqani terror network has further escalated with Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani describing US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen's accusations as "not based on facts".
In a statement issued by the military last evening, the powerful army chief described Mullen's remarks as "as very unfortunate and not based on facts".
He added: "This is especially disturbing in view of a rather constructive meeting with Admiral Mullen in Spain."
The Pakistani military had maintained a studied silence as several US officials linked the Inter-Services Intelligence agency to the Haqqani terror network and called on Islamabad to take action against the Taliban faction based in the North Waziristan tribal region.
Kayani responded a day after Mullen accused the ISI of supporting the Haqqani network in carrying out a string of deadly terror attacks, including an assault on the US Embassy in Kabul on September 13.
Mullen said the Taliban faction was a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's spy agency.
The Pakistani military statement said: "On the specific question of contacts with the Haqqanis, (Kayani) said that Admiral Mullen knows fully well which all countries are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan is neither fair nor productive."
The statement did not name the other countries that are in contact with the Haqqani network.
Kayani categorically denied US accusations of "proxy war and ISI support to Haqqanis" and said the "blame game in public statements should give way to a constructive and meaningful engagement for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, an objective to which Pakistan is fully committed".