By Ashish Kumar Sen
The Washington Times
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The United States on Tuesday demanded that Pakistan dismantle a terrorist network blamed for attacking a U.S. embassy as Pakistanis defended efforts to fight militants and demonstrated against the increasing U.S. pressure.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Pakistan “needs to take action to deal with the links” that U.S. officials say exist between the Pakistani intelligence agency and the Haqqani Network, based along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.
He repeated claims by other U.S. officials that the Haqqani terrorists are “responsible for attacks on the U.S. Embassy” in Afghanistan and on other Western targets.
The United States has been publicly increasing pressure on Pakistan since Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress last week that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency helped plan the attacks on the embassy and NATO headquarters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, two weeks ago.
Pakistan defended its efforts to fight terrorism Tuesday, when Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told the U.N. General Assembly that her country has lost more than 30,000 people to terrorist attacks over the past decade.
FOES OF AMERICA: Supporters of Sunni Tehreek, a Pakistani religious party, rally against the U.S. in Hyderabad on Tuesday. Pakistan lashed out at the U.S. for accusing the country’s intelligence agency of supporting extremist attacks. (Associated Press)
She also appealed for “greater trust” in Pakistan’s war against terrorism.
“We must demonstrate complete unity in ranks, avoid recrimination, build greater trust and more importantly bring about the requisite operational coordination in combating this menace,” she said.
The foreign minister highlighted the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister who was killed in 2007.
“Numerous politicians have lost sons and brothers and fathers at the hand of terrorists,” she said.
In Pakistan, thousands of protesters denounced the United States in marches throughout the South Asian nation. Hundreds of demonstrators shouted, “Death to America,” in a protest outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik met with a visiting Chinese official in what some analysts interpreted as an attempt to bolster relations with China. He promised to attack Chinese militants hiding along Pakistan’s border with China.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani praised Pakistani-Chinese relations, calling them “higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey,” the Associated Press reported.
U.S. concerns about the relationship between the ISI and the Haqqani Network have dominated recent diplomatic meetings, including a 3˝-hour session between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Pakistan’s foreign minister in New York last week.
Pakistan’s relationship with the Haqqani Network is “complicated,” said a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to freely discuss intelligence matters.
“Pakistan’s national security apparatus has supported the Haqqani fighters for decades. But we’ve seen in the past what happens when terrorists are given a de facto safe haven, as the Haqqanis have in parts of Pakistan. It doesn’t turn out well for either Pakistan or the United States,” the official said.