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Terrorism & Security

Pakistan: We're scapegoats for US frustration over Afghan war

Pakistan's prime minister warned Tuesday that if the US didn't stop lobbing accusations at Pakistan, it would be difficult to tamp down anti-American sentiment in his country.

By Staff writer / September 28, 2011

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani speaks during an interview with Reuters at his residence in Islamabad, Tuesday. Gilani warned the United States to stop accusing Pakistan of playing a double game with Islamist militants, and said Washington must correct a perceived tilt towards arch-foe India.

Mian Khursheed/Reuters

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A top Pakistani official has warned that public anger toward the US is getting beyond the government's control, and blamed the recent spike in tensions on a US administration increasingly anxious to fulfill its mission in Afghanistan ahead of a planned 2014 withdrawal.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani told Reuters yesterday that a top US military official's accusation of Pakistani government complicity in terrorist activity was increasing anti-American sentiment – already on the rise after the controversial Navy Seals raid on Osama bin Laden's compound this spring.

"The negative messaging, naturally that is disturbing my people," Gilani said in the interview. "If there is messaging that is not appropriate to our friendship, then naturally it is extremely difficult to convince my public. Therefore they [the US] should be sending positive messages."

… Gilani said Washington should provide the "political space" for his government to convince a skeptical Pakistani public of the value of a relationship with the United States.

The outgoing US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, said last week that the Haqqani network is a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. He accused Pakistan of directly supporting the militant group, which carried out a brazen attack on the US Embassy in Kabul earlier this month.

While Prime Minister Gilani blamed Washington's stepped-up accusations on frustration with the Afghanistan war, US officials say it has more to do with Pakistan's increasing use of groups like the Haqqani network as proxies in Afghanistan, CBS reported last week.

The increasingly tough U.S. rhetoric reflects a U.S. belief that Pakistani intelligence in recent months has more aggressively facilitated cross-border attacks by the Haqqanis, one senior military official said Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

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