AF/PAK: Pakistan Intel Agency Tied to Embassy Attack (Update)

September 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm Leave a comment

The Gloves Come Off

Updates with Pakistani officials’ reaction, links to additional criticism by U.S. officials, adds links to photos from Kabul attack.

The already troubled relationship between the United States and Pakistan appears to be heading for a head-on crash after the top U.S. military leader said Pakistan’s intelligence service is indirectly linked to last week’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (right) and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testify before a Senate panel.( Defense Dept. photo by DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday (Sept. 22) Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking uniformed U.S. military leader, went further than any American official has gone before in linking Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency with recent attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

In his written testimony, Mullen said the Haqqani Network, a terrorist organization based in Pakistan’s tribal areas near the Afghan border, was responsible for last week’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that left five Afghan policeman and 11 Afghan civilians dead. Mullen said the Haqqani Network enjoys “the support and protection” of the Pakistani government.  But he went even farther than that:

“The fact remains that the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity. Extremist organizations serving asproxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network—which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency—is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.”

Mullen isn’t alone in his criticism of the Pakistani government’s relationship within its borders. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who also testified at the hearing, warned that the U.S. is prepared to take unilateral action to stop the attacks if Islamabad doesn’t do something about the Haqqanis. The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, has publicly blamed the Haqqani Network for the attacks and the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, accused the Pakistani government of supporting the group, notes POLITICO.

This latest development is likely to shatter the shaky alliance that the U.S. and Pakistan have maintained since 9/11.

Army Sgt. Jaclyn Guzman maintains surveillance during an insurgent attack on International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Sept. 13. (Photo by Army Sgt. Catherine Threat)

Pakistani officials are having none of it. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Mullen’s comments risked straining U.S-Pakistan relations to the breaking point. Interior Minister Rehman Malik warned that Pakistan will not allow foreign “boots on our ground, never.”

To see more Defense Department photos of the Sept. 13 attacks in Kabul, click here.

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Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Counter Insurgency, National Security and Defense, Pakistan, Special Operations, Washington. Tags: , , , , , .

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