Pakistan dares US, says ready to `pay the price`

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has denied allegation levelled by Washington.

Zeenews Bureau

Islamabad: Lashing out at the US for accusing the ISI of actively supporting Haqqani network militants, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Thursday dismissed the claims as mere allegations.

In a strongly-worded statement, Khar said if the US wanted to cut its ties with Pakistan, then Islamabad was also ready to “pay the price”.

"You (US) will lose an ally," Khar told Geo TV in New York. "You cannot afford to alienate Pakistan; you cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani people. If you are choosing to do so and if they are choosing to do so it will be at their (the United States`) own cost."

"Anything which is said about an ally, about a partner publicly to recriminate it, to humiliate it is not acceptable."

Khar was responding to a Senate testimony by the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who said Pakistan`s top spy agency was closely tied to the Haqqani Network, the most violent and effective faction in the Afghan Taliban insurgency.

"The Haqqani Network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency," Mullen had told the US Senate Armed Services Committee.

Haqqani network militants are blamed for an assault on the US embassy in Kabul last week.

Denying the allegations, Khar said the ISI had no role in Kabul attacks. Furthermore, she called on the US to “share intelligence” with Pakistan.

On Thursday, Pakistan`s Interior Minister had also rejected the US accusations of Islamabad`s links to the Haqqanis.

The minister, Rehman Malik, also warned against a unilateral US ground attack on the Haqqanis, who are based in Pakistan`s ungoverned tribal territories.

"The Pakistan nation will not allow the boots on our ground, never. Our government is already cooperating with the US ... but they also must respect our sovereignty," Malik said in an interview.

A CIA asset turned al Qaeda ally, the Haqqani network is probably the most dangerous faction in the Afghan Taliban. In the 1980s, the United States funnelled arms and cash to the Haqqani faction to counter Soviet forces.

According to Mullen, Haqqani militants -- with ISI backing -- this month carried out a truck bombing on a NATO base in Afghanistan that wounded 77 Americans; assaulted the US embassy and NATO headquarters in the Afghan capital; and in June staged an attack on the InterContinental hotel in Kabul.

The admiral`s tough language follows a series of stern warnings from top US officials on Pakistan`s inaction over the Haqqani network, raising the possibility of unilateral US action.

"If they keep killing our troops that would not be something we would just sit idly by and watch," Mullen said of the Haqqani insurgents.

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