White House Refuses to Endorse Mullen on Pakistan

Posted September 28th, 2011 at 6:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The White House on Wednesday refused to endorse a top U.S. military officer's accusation that Afghanistan's militant Haqqani network is acting as a “veritable arm” of Pakistan's military intelligence agency, the ISI.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said although the comment made last week by departing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen is consistent with the administration's position, he would put it differently.

During a congressional testimony, Admiral Mullen said Haqqani militants blamed for attacks on U.S. targets in Afghanistan were acting with the ISI's support. Pakistan strongly rejects that charge.

Carney said Washington wants Islamabad to take action against the network. But he also stressed the importance of Pakistan's help in fighting terrorism.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration designated two leaders of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba as terrorists. The action prohibits American citizens from doing business with Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi and freezes their assets in the United States.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, the al-Qaida-linked organization, is blamed for the 2008 terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai.

In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain's relationship with Pakistan “is there to stay.” He said London “will stand by Pakistan as it addresses the challenges it faces and build a durable relationship that will stand the test of time.”

Pakistan's High Commissioner in Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hassan, told VOA with the tension between the United States and Pakistan, Hague's remarks in Pakistan's support are quite significant. Hassan said that U.S.-Pakistani relations “will get back on track as both regard each other as an important ally.”

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Wednesday, Admiral Mullen said he had been Pakistan's “best friend,” but that he will not stand for losing U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan to Haqqani attacks. He said it is “very clear” that the Pakistani ISI has supported the Haqqanis, even though he does not believe the militants can be “turned on and off like a switch.”

Admiral Mullen's term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ends Friday. He will be replaced by Army General Martin Dempsey.