Following years of raised tensions, Pakistan is now warning the United States that friendly relations between the two nations could be severed if the US continues to blame them on recent attacks in Afghanistan.
Speaking this Thursday before Congress, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, alleged that the September 10 attack outside of Kabul, Afghanistan was orchestrated with support from Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Pakistani spy organization.
“With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy,” Mullen said yesterday at in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. That truck bomb near a NATO outpost south of Kabul killed at least five people and wounded 77 NATO troops.
Admiral Mullen believes that that isn’t the only incident tied to the Pakistani government. “We also have credible evidence that they were behind the June 28 attack against the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations,” added the official.
Mullen went on to call the Haqqani militants responsible for the attacks a “veritable arm” of the ISI.
In response to his allegations, not only have Pakistani top-brass rejected his claims, but have threatened the United States that the powerful alliance between the two countries often at odds could come to a halt if American officials continue to come after Pakistan for terror attacks.
“If you say that it is ISI involved in that attack, I categorically deny it,” Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik responded shortly after Mullen’s statements to Reuters. “We have no such policy to attack or aid attack through Pakistani forces or through any Pakistani assistance.”
Other officials overseas add that the United States’ allegations come at a time when an alliance with Pakistan is crucial for the continuation of America’s War on Terror. While occupation of Afghanistan is expected to be drawn back in the days and months ahead, Pakistan continues to serve as a crucial outpost for the US military while they search for insurgents in neighboring Afghanistan and locally. American troops stormed the Abbottabad, Pakistan compound of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden earlier this year, and following years of American military presence, tensions between Pakistan and the US have only worsened since that incident, where Pakistan alleged that the US left them in the dark before executing the raid.
Now officials say that if the US wants the continued support of Pakistan, they will have to be a bit more careful with their words.
“You cannot afford to alienate Pakistan, you cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani people. If you are choosing to do so and if they are choosing to do so it will be at their (the United States’) own cost,” said Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in response to Mullen’s comments. Speaking to Geo TV in New York today, Khar said that the US “will lose an ally” should they continue to pin the blame on Pakistan.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani echoed those sentiments to reporters this week as well, cautioning America that an alliance with Pakistan is imperative to operations in Asia.
“The message for America is: ‘They can’t live with us, they can’t live without us,” said Gilani.
While participation from Pakistan might be crucial to keep the heat on Afghanistan, American operations have exposed that maybe perhaps America can live without Pakistanis. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism wrote earlier this month that the CIA has launched 291 done aircraft attacks in Pakistan as of August 2011, and that at least 385 causalities caused by those clandestine spy planes were of civilians.