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Pakistan’s Alleged Ties to Haqqani Terror Network Rock Alliance With U.S.

September 27, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
A terrorist group based in Pakistan that is active in Afghanistan acts an an "arm" of Pakistan's intelligence agency, Adm. Mike Mullen, the top American military officer, told Congress last week. Margaret Warner reports on Pakistan's deteriorating relations with the United States.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, the escalating tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Margaret Warner has that story.

MARGARET WARNER: Three bloody recent attacks in Afghanistan claimed many lives, but the greatest casualty may be the U.S. alliance with Pakistan.

In late June, insurgents laid siege to Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel, killing 11. Earlier this month, a truck bomb wounded 77 U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan. And days later, back in Kabul, insurgents fired grenades and automatic weapons at the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds. Sixteen died in the 20-hour assault.

Against this backdrop, last week, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went to Capitol Hill and dropped a bombshell.

ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, Joints Chiefs chairman: The Haqqani Network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s internal services intelligence agency.

With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy. In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership, but Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence.

MARGARET WARNER: It was a U-turn after years of U.S. reluctance to publicly accuse Pakistan’s military and intelligence service of working with anti-U.S./anti-Afghan terrorists. His testimony drew an angry response.

The next day, Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar challenged the U.S. to produce evidence of any link between the Haqqani terrorist network and the ISI.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik did the same on Sunday.

REHMAN MALIK, Pakistani interior minister (through translator): We have no relations with the Haqqani network. They are in Afghanistan. If they are operating, they are operating from Afghanistan. If anybody has got any evidence to this effect, please bring it to us. We are cooperating with the U.S.

MARGARET WARNER: U.S. assistance to Pakistan totaled nearly $4.5 billion last year, more than half of it going to the military. But trust between the two has been waning.

In May, President Obama chose not to alert Islamabad before sending U.S. special forces to find and kill Osama bin Laden at a safe house near a Pakistani military academy. And, today, a report surfaced in The New York Times on a 2007 incident, saying Pakistanis meeting with U.S. military officers in a border village turned their guns on the Americans, killing one and wounding three.

Now there are growing calls for a tougher line on Pakistan from people like Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. In an opinion column this year in Newsweek and The Daily Beast, he wrote: “Washington needs Islamabad to change its behavior, and change it now. If Pakistan fails to cooperate, Washington must cut off assistance to its military and intelligence services.”

The Pakistani prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, remains defiant. Meeting today with a Chinese official, he warned against unilateral American action to hunt down Haqqani militants inside Pakistan.