Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday reacted sharply to a blunt Pentagon assessment that it harbours terrorist sanctuaries, saying the remarks in the report contained "unsubstantiated allegations" and "unwarranted comments".
In a candid assessment of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, the Pentagon had told the US Congress that the country is using militant groups as proxies to counter the superior Indian military.
"Afghan-and Indian-focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability. Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India's superior military," the Pentagon told the Congress in its latest six-monthly report on the current situation in Afghanistan.
Reacting to the report, Pakistan Foreign Office said, "the Government of Pakistan takes serious exception to comments contained in the US Department of Defence report sent to the Congress under the title 'Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan'."
"While noting Pakistan's cooperation with the US in areas of mutual interests, the recently?released report also carries unsubstantiated allegations of the existence of terrorist 'sanctuaries' or that proxy forces are operating from here against Afghanistan and India," the Foreign Office said in a statement.
It said Pakistan's protest over these "unwarranted comments" was conveyed by Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to US Ambassador Richard Olson at the Foreign Ministry today.
However, the ministry avoided saying that Olson was "summoned".
A senior government official said that Olson's presence at the ministry to receive the protest was like "summoning without expressly saying so."
"Such allegations are of particular concern at this point when Pakistan government has launched comprehensive operations against militants in North Waziristan. The military operation 'Zarb-e-Azb' has been broadly welcomed internationally, including in the US," it said.
The Foreign Office said that the operation has "successfully eliminated terrorist hideouts" and is directed against all militants, without any distinction.
"We therefore hope that the issues will be seen in their correct perspective," it said.
The Pentagon report also referred to the attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, saying this was done just ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India.
The Pentagon also informed the Congress that India continues to support Afghanistan, believing a secure and stable Afghanistan will benefit the region and facilitate economic corridors into Central Asia.