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Terrorism & Security

Pakistan refuses to battle Haqqani network

Pakistan said Sunday that it would not heed US calls to crack down on the Haqqani network, a militant group that Washington blames for the 20-hour siege on its embassy in Kabul this month.

By Staff writer / September 26, 2011

Pakistani protesters in Multan, Pakistan, shout slogans condemning the US for accusing the country's most powerful intelligence agency of supporting extremist attacks against American targets in Afghanistan, Friday.

Khalid Tanveer/Reuters

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Pakistan's top military commanders announced Sunday that they will not take action against the Haqqani network, the Pakistan-based militant group that the US suspects in two brazen attacks on Western targets in Afghanistan's capital this month.

The announcement signals a certain measure of defiance from Pakistan, which the US has accused of aiding and abetting the Haqqani network. Washington has repeatedly asked the Pakistani government to do more to undermine the group's operations.

Pakistan news outlet The Express Tribune reports that the commanders agreed to resist US demands for an offensive in North Waziristan, where the Haqqani network is believed to be operating. “We have already conveyed to the US that Pakistan cannot go beyond what it has already done,” an unnamed official said.

In an unusually frank assessment a top US military official last week accused Pakistan of backing the Haqqani network and aiding its recent attack on the US Embassy and a NATO compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month, Reuters reports.

In the most blunt remarks by a US official since Pakistan joined the US-led war on militancy in 2001, the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, on Thursday testified before the US Senate that the Haqqani militant network is a "veritable arm" of the [Pakistani intelligence agency] ISI. He also for the first time held Islamabad responsible for the Kabul attack, saying Pakistan provided support for that assault.

Pakistan has denied that it supports the Haqqanis, and say it can't take further action against the network because it is focused on battling its own domestic Taliban insurgency. A crackdown on the group, which has extensive alliances in the border region and has "mastered the rugged mountain terrain," would result in heavy casualties, according to Reuters.

The official Pakistani response to Washington's accusations has been sharp and included threats of ending counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries.

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