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.
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.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
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
Pakistan maintains that its 150,000 troops are busy in the tribal belt along the Afghanistan border. Pakistan wants to decide the timing of fresh assaults on its own. Pakistan’s military officials also say their troops recently faced cross-border attacks from Taliban militants who took shelter in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunnar and Nooristan provinces, complicating their work. Pakistan has lodged protest with the NATO forces and Karzai government.