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Pakistan Turns Tables on U.S. Accusations About Sheltering Militants

Posted by yourpakistan on October 20, 2011


Washington Post

“The problem refuses to go away,” Abbas said.

Tensions over the remote Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier area have simmered for months amid reports of cross-border attacks. U.S. and Afghan officials complain of steady rocket fire emanating from Pakistan. Pakistan says its soldiers have been besieged by militant armies from Afghanistan. Both sides accuse the other of inadequately patrolling the frontier. The issue surfaced again this week as NATO launched a new offensive against the Haqqani network, which U.S. officials have said is aided by Pakistani intelligence. Those accusations infuriated Pakistan, and its leaders and media have drummed up a public frenzy over the potential for a U.S. invasion, though there is no evidence one is likely.

In recent days, Pakistani newspapers have splashed alarmist headlines about NATO troops massing along the Afghan side of the border. Though Pakistan has previously encouraged such a move to assist with border security and U.S. military officials said it was notified about the offensive, suspicion swirled in Pakistan that it is a sign of an American march to war.

In a closed-door briefing Tuesday, Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani told lawmakers the possibility of an invasion was remote because the United States would “think 10 times” before invading a nuclear power such as Pakistan, according to various news reports. But he also said a Pakistani operation against the Haqqanis would accomplish little.

“The problem is in Afghanistan, not Pakistan,” Kayani was quoted as saying.

U.S. officials have said they would not pursue the Haqqanis in unilateral ground raids inside Pakistan. But the CIA has increased drone strikes near Miram Shah in North Waziristan, which American officials say is the Haqqani network’s stronghold. The strikes are extremely unpopular in Pakistan.

Disagreement over the Haqqanis is only the latest friction point in the bilateral relationship, which both sides say is warming despite the heated public rhetoric. Even so, many here say Pakistani officials are likely to turn one of the most despised Washington arguments back on Clinton.

“From the day the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, the same mantra has been endlessly repeated to Pakistan: It must ‘do more’ in the fight against terrorism,” the editorial board of the Express-Tribune wrote Wednesday. “Finally we have the opportunity to say the same thing to the U.S.”

Special correspondent Shaiq Hussain contributed to this report from Islamabad.

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