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Toughest US accusation in years angers Pakistanis

The relationship between Pakistan and the US reached a new nadir when Admiral Mullen accused Pakistan’s spy agency of aiding insurgents who attacked the US Embassy in Kabul.

By Owais TohidCorrespondent / September 26, 2011

A Pakistani protester shout slogans at an anti-American rally to condemn the US for accusing the country's most powerful intelligence agency of supporting extremist attacks against American targets in Afghanistan, in Multan, Pakistan, Friday. The top U.S. military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, accused the Haqqani network Thursday of staging an attack against the US Embassy in Kabul last week and a truck bombing that wounded 77 American soldiers days earlier. He claimed the Pakistani spy agency, the ISI, helped the group carry out the two attacks.

Khalid Tanveer/AP

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Karachi, Pakistan

In a roadside cafe a few hundred yards from the US consulate in Karachi, a dozen men are huddled around a TV screaming the latest headlines on the deteriorating ties between Pakistan and the US following the unexpected accusation by Adm. Mike Mullen Sunday.

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Admiral Mullen accused Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI, of aiding insurgents who attacked the US Embassy in Kabul on Sept. 13. In the cafe, an image of US Sen. Lindsay Graham flashes across the screen. Pakistan has to choose between the US and the Haqqani network, he warns.

The crowd has cause to worry, as most of the area’s residents have migrated here from North and South Waziristan in wake of US Army operations and drone attacks. Waziristan, they know, remains a flashpoint of the Pakistani-US acrimony.

“It’s a grave situation,” shouts elderly tribesman Hamza Mehsud in the cafe, while others nod their heads. “Our motherland has already been bleeding and now America plans to attack Waziristan. Over our dead body.”

His anger and indignation are representative of much of the population here. A decade-long tumultuous relationship between the two countries in the war against terrorism reached a new nadir after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a covert US raid in May, which many Pakistanis felt trampled their sovereignty. But the latest row has pushed relations to the lowest point so far, say analysts.

The low point came when American military official, and long time proponent of rebuilding US-Pakistani ties, Admiral Mullen made the announcement that many analysts take to mean a step up in US drone attacks in the Waziristan area, where the Haqqani network is believed to be based.

Pakistan's military chief, Ashfaq Pervez Kayani termed the accusations that Pakistan was supporting militants as "unfortunate" and not based on facts. Mr. Kayani added that singling out Pakistan was neither fair nor productive.

The issue of trust

The latest allegations come amid America’s longstanding demand that Pakistan’s military move into North Waziristan and launch a crackdown against Taliban militants, including the Haqqani network.

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