A senior Pakistani government official has refuted allegations by the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Pakistan's principal intelligence agency has a longstanding relationship with an insurgent group allied with the Taliban (which has targeted American troops in Afghanistan).
We do have a relationship: that of an adversary, the Pakistani intelligence official told CNN.
We have made our resolve very clear that [the Haqqani Network] is an enemy we need to fight together.”
Based in North Waziristan, Pakistan, the Haqqani are believed to be linked to the Taliban, but operate independently of it. The United Nations has warned that the Haqqani has been at the forefront of insurgent activity in Afghanistan, responsible for many high-profile attacks.”
The Pakistani intelligence official also told CNN: we have our hands full fighting other Islamist militant groups along the border with Afghanistan, notably those under the umbrella of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and once we are through with them we can turn on the other [the Haqqanis]. We do not have the capacity to undertake simultaneous operations.
Yesterday, U.S. Admiral Michael Mullen told a Pakistani television station that the Haqqani very specifically facilitates and supports the Taliban who move in Afghanistan, and they're killing Americans. I can't accept that and I will do everything I possibly can to prevent that specifically.”
Then, Mullen accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of having extensive links to the Haqqani.
“That doesn't mean everybody in the ISI, but it's there, he said. I also have an understanding that the ISI and the [Pakistani military] exist to protect their own citizens, and there's a way they have done that for a long period of time. I believe that over time, that's got to change.
Mullen also said he thinks this is causing a serious strain between the US and Pakistan.
We have strong reservations over the relations of elements of the ISI with the Haqqani network, Mullen said. He described the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan as complex.
There is not a magic solution, he said.
Last December, Pakistan said it had arrested Nasiruddin Haqqani, son of the network's leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani.
Still, U.S. government officials are fearful that Islamabad has been dragging its feet with respect to tracking and capturing militants who operate in the remote tribal areas.
On Thursday, the Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir will meet with US State Department officials in Washington, in an effort to improve relations.