White House Urges Pakistan to Cut Haqqani Militant Ties

Posted September 23rd, 2011 at 10:35 am (UTC-5)
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The White House is calling on the Pakistani government to “break any links” it has with al-Qaida-linked militants, a day after the top U.S. military officer accused Islamabad of helping attack Americans in Afghanistan.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday it is critical that Pakistan cut all ties it has with the Haqqani network. He also urged Islamabad to take immediate action against the militant group to ensure it is no longer a threat to the American or Pakistani people.

U.S. officials have long maintained that Haqqani militants attack U.S. targets in Afghanistan and then take shelter in sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region. On Thursday, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, took the criticism a step further, saying the Haqqani network is a “veritable arm” of Pakistan's military spy agency.

Mullen said that among other attacks, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence supported the Haqqanis' assault last week on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul, as well as the September 10 car bombing of a NATO base in central Afghanistan that wounded 77 American soldiers.

Pakistan has repeatedly rejected any U.S. accusations that it helps militants, including the most recent and pointed allegations. Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar hit back at Mullen's remarks late Thursday, warning that the United States risks losing an ally if it continues to make such statements.

Khar told a private Pakistani news channel late Thursday that the United States cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani government or its people. The Pakistani foreign minister said that if the United States chooses to push Pakistan away, it will do so at its own cost.

In Karachi, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters Friday that the U.S.-Pakistani relationship is fraught with difficulty, saying “they can't live with us [and] they can't live without us.”