Haqqani network is a “veritable arm” of ISI: Mullen
Agencies |Shawwal 23, 1432 | Thursday 22nd September 2011
WASHINGTON: The US military’s top officer bluntly accused Pakistan on Thursday of “exporting” violent extremism to Afghanistan through proxies and warned of possible US action to protect American troops.
In a severe indictment of Pakistan’s links with terror groups, top US military commander Thursday said the ISI provided support to the Haqqani terror network in carrying out the recent attack on the country’s embassy in Kabul.
“The Haqqani network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency. With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy,” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“We also have credible intelligence that they were behind the June 28th attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations,” he said.
“In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan — and most especially the Pakistani Army and ISI — jeopardises not only the prospect of our strategic partnership, but also Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence,” Mullen said.
He said Pakistan may believe that by using these proxies they are hedging their bets, or redressing what they feel is an imbalance of regional power but in reality, they have already lost that bet.
“By exporting violence, they have eroded their internal security and their position in the region. They have undermined their international credibility and threatened their economic well-being.
“Only a decision to break with this policy can pave the road to a positive future for Pakistan,” Mullen said.
The Admiral added, “As you know, I have expended enormous energy on this relationship. I’ve met with General Kayani more than two dozen times — including a two-and-a-half hour meeting last weekend in Spain.
“I’ve done this because I believe in the importance of Pakistan to the region, because I believe that we share a common interest against terrorism, and because I recognise the great political and economic difficulties Pakistan faces.”
Referring to his meetings with Pakistan Army chief in the past two years, Mullen said some may argue he have wasted his time, that Pakistan is no closer to US than before… and may now have drifted even further away.
“I disagree. Military cooperation is warming. Information flow between us and across the border is quickening. Transparency is returning, slowly,” he noted.
“With Pakistan’s help we have disrupted al-Qaeda and its senior leadership in the border regions and degraded its ability to plan and conduct terror attacks.
“Indeed, I think we would be in a far tougher situation today, in the wake of the frostiness which fell over us after the bin Laden raid, were it not for the groundwork General Kayani and I had laid — were it not for the fact that we could at least have a conversation about the way ahead, however difficult that conversation might be,” Mullen said.
He said what matters most right now is moving forward.
While the relationship must be guided by clear principles to which both sides adhere, Mullen said “we can no longer focus solely on the most obvious issues.”
“We should help create more stakeholders in Pakistan’s prosperity, help the Pakistani people address their economic, political, and internal security challenges, and promote Indo-Pak cooperation on the basis of true sovereign equality,” Mullen said.
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