Linking ISI with terrorism reflects policy disarray in US: PM

Gilai described the US allegations as a "propaganda blitz against Pakistan" that "vitiates the atmosphere and is counter-productive".

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2011, 23:54 PM IST

Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
on Saturday rejected US accusations linking Pakistan`s spy agency
ISI with the Haqqani terror network, saying the allegations
reflected "policy disarray" within the US administration on
achieving peace in Afghanistan.

"We strongly reject the assertions of complicity with the
Haqqanis or of proxy war (in Afghanistan). It will only
benefit the enemies of peace. Only terrorists and militants
will gain from any fissures and divisions," Gilani told a
gathering of diplomats at a hotel here.

"The allegations betray a confusion and policy disarray
within the US establishment on the way forward in
Afghanistan," he said.

Gilani contended that several countries had "maintained
direct contacts with the Haqqanis and singling out Pakistan
was "not fair". However, he did not identify these countries.

He also said Pakistan could not be "held responsible for
the security of US, NATO and ISAF forces in Afghanistan".

Gilani`s comments marked the latest round in a war of
words between the two sides that was triggered by US military
chief Admiral Mike Mullen`s accusation that the ISI had
supported the Haqqani network in carrying out a string of
terror attacks in Afghanistan, including an assault on the US
Embassy in Kabul.

The premier described the US allegations as a "propaganda
blitz against Pakistan" that "vitiates the atmosphere and is
counter-productive".

He added: "It tends to ignore the sacrifices by the
people of Pakistan and negates all that we have endeavoured to
achieve over the last so many years."

Gilani said there was "concern over the deterioration of
the security situation in Afghanistan" and the recent attacks
in Kabul, including the one on the US Embassy, "were
disquieting".

Gilani said Pakistan had condemned the attacks and that
he had personally gone to Kabul in the wake of the
assassination of the Afghan Peace Council chief, Burhanuddin
Rabbani, to express solidarity.

The Prime Minister called for greater coordination
between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US to cope with the
situation in the war-torn country and to usher in peace and
reconciliation.

"There is the need for close policy coordination between
Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US. We need to develop a clear
and coherent strategy together, a clear roadmap so that all
three...are on the same page and work together for achieving
the stated goal of reconciliation and peace," he said.

At the same time, Gilani contended that foreign troops in
Afghanistan were not doing enough to stop cross-border
militant raids against Pakistan.

"...there have also been numerous attacks on Pakistan
launched from sanctuaries and safe havens in Nuristan and
Kunar in Afghanistan. It is as much the responsibility of the
Afghan National Army, NATO and ISAF not to allow such
cross-border militancy," he said.

Gilani reiterated that over 35,000 Pakistanis had died in
acts of terrorism and that the US knew a large number of al
Qaida operatives were "interdicted, captured and killed by our
security forces".

Pakistan’s credentials in the counter-terrorism campaign
were "impeccable and unquestionable", he claimed.

Joint operations and coordination are essential for
coping with the situation in Afghanistan but this could only
"take place on the basis of mutual respect", he said.
"Let`s avoid mutual recrimination and recommit ourselves
to working together for eliminating terrorism and for
reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan," he added.

The rhetoric between Pakistan and the US on the ISI`s
links with the Haqqani terror network escalated after Pakistan
Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani yesterday described
Admiral Mullen?s accusations as "not based on facts".

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar too warned that the US
risked losing its partnership with Pakistan if it continued
criticising Islamabad.

Reacting to reports that the US could take unilateral
action against the Haqqani network, she said Pakistan had set
"red lines" for the counter-terrorism cooperation that should
not be broken.

The relationship between the two countries has been bumpy
since the beginning of this year, when a CIA contractor was
arrested in Lahore for gunning down two men linked to the ISI.
The ties plunged to a new low after the covert US raid
that killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison city of
Abbottabad on May 2.

Since then, the US has stepped up pressure on Pakistan to
act against the Haqqani network, which is based in the North
Waziristan tribal region.

PTI