Hitting back: Kayani scoffs, Khar cautions, Gilani muses

Published: September 24, 2011
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Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani listens to US Admiral Mike Mullen at the start of the NATO MC conference in Seville on September 16. PHOTO: FILE REUTERS

Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani listens to US Admiral Mike Mullen at the start of the NATO MC conference in Seville on September 16. PHOTO: FILE REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The crescendo of discontent emanating from Washington has not been taken lightly by Pakistan.

The country’s top civil and military leadership spoke in unison on Friday, urging the United States to stop publicly accusing Islamabad of playing a double game in the war against militancy – and even going as far as warning Washington that it could suffer consequences if it continued to do so.

“You will lose an ally,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told a news channel in New York in remarks broadcast on Friday – a day that also saw the White House calling for Pakistan to cut ties with the Haqqani network.

“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 own cost,” Khar added. Pressed to break his silence on Friday, Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani also dismissed allegations that the ISI had helped Afghan militants attack the US embassy in Kabul, insisting that the charges were baseless and part of a “public blame game” – which was detrimental to peace in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also joined the chorus on Friday, saying “The message for America is: ‘They can’t live with us… they can’t live without us’.”

In a hard-hitting statement before a Senate panel on Thursday, US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen openly accused Inter-Services Intelligence agency of supporting Haqqani insurgents in planning and executing a 22-hour assault on the US Embassy in Afghanistan last week and a truck bomb that wounded 77 American soldiers days earlier.

(Read: Volley heats up – ISI targeted in bitter Mullen tirade)

In a statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Kayani termed US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s claims ‘very unfortunate and not based on facts.’

Responding to scathing criticism by the US military’s top officer, Kayani denied allegations that his country is “exporting” terror to neighbouring Afghanistan.

“While taking note of the recent statements made by Admiral Mullen… Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani termed these as very unfortunate and not based on facts,” read an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).

“This is especially disturbing in view of a rather constructive meeting with Admiral Mullen,” it added referring to a recent meeting between the pair in Spain.

Interestingly, General Kayani’s terse statement suggested Islamabad had no immediate intention of acting on renewed American demands that it attack the Haqqani militant faction in North Waziristan. Nor did the Army go as far as to deny it maintains contact with the feared Afghan insurgent group. However the Army chief felt ‘singling out’ Pakistan for contact with the group wasn’t ‘fair or productive’.

“On the specific question of contacts with Haqqanis, the (chief of army staff) said that Admiral Mullen knows fully well which all countries are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan is neither fair nor productive.”

The statement left the media buzzing about the name of the country the army chief was hinting at, but there was no confirmation. However, a military official said the army chief was referring to US attempts to reach out to the Haqqanis for reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Categorically denying the accusations of waging a proxy war and ISI support to Haqqanis, the army chief said: “the blame game in public statements should give way to a constructive and meaningful engagement for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, an objective to which Pakistan is fully committed.”

Renewed demands

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney on Friday called on Pakistan to “break any link they have” with the Haqqani terror network.

“It is critical that the government of Pakistan break any links they have and take strong and immediate action against this network so that they are no longer a threat to the United States or to the people of Pakistan, because this network is a threat to both,” Carney said.

In fresh attacks made by Captain John Kirby, spokesperson of Admiral Mike Mullen, the US official claimed the ISI not only supported but also encouraged terrorist outfits, particularly the Haqqani militant network.

“All I can tell you that we are confident that the ISI continues to support and even encourage the Haqqanis to launch these attacks. I am not going into specifics of the intelligence that we have about the support,” Kirby told Pentagon reporters during an off-camera interaction.

When asked about the denial being issued by the Pakistani leadership on the allegations, Kirby said that he and the Chairman stand by those comments.

“The chairman stands by what he testified before the US Senate,” he said.

Military sources say despite US pressure, there is no possibility of an imminent operation in North Waziristan Agency.

“Pakistan must avoid opening another front merely on the behest of the US,” said Defense Analyst Lt General Abdul Qayum. “Any operation in North Waziristan will have huge implications for Pakistan,” he argued.

However, the issue of the Haqqani network has seemingly become the main stumbling block to normalise ties between the two countries. Earlier this week, the US Senate Committee linked all US economic and security assistance to Pakistan with its progress towards fighting militant groups, including the Haqqani network.

Communication lines open

However, despite the heightened acrimony, the Pentagon said on Friday that communication lines with Pakistan’s military remain open. Despite serious disagreement, the US military had no intention of cutting off dialogue with Pakistan, press secretary George Little told reporters.

“The lines of communication with our Pakistani counterparts remain open,” Little said. “This is a relationship that’s complicated but essential.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Rakeshna .Bhatia
    Sep 24, 2011 - 6:54AM

    Cautious scoffs which are amusing? Do we want the Americans to prove the Haqqani network.as they did the Osma Bin Ladene presenceRecommend

  • SH
    Sep 24, 2011 - 7:21AM

    Khar well done!

    Recommend

  • H.A. Khan
    Sep 24, 2011 - 7:32AM

    Why did the things reach this stage?.

    Why is there obvious lack of coordination in the policy of Pakistan Government. as National assembly and Senate are not consulted while formulating policy and strategies..

    The entire exchange between Pakistan and USA looks like a street shouting match!.
    Sad,very sad!

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Sep 24, 2011 - 8:27AM

    @H.A. Khan:
    I agree with you 100%. There should have been a congressional oversight over this issue in Pakistan. Looks like everybody is making statements at will without any involvement of parliament. There must be a Q & A session in both houses in Pakistan about this and similar issue. Recommend

  • Abdur Rehman
    Sep 24, 2011 - 9:47AM

    @Rakeshna .Bhatia:
    And where did they give you the proof of OBL’s presence ?

    Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Sep 24, 2011 - 9:59AM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Much the best statements given by these three leaders but the question rises that how long they can show strength and determination in their this stand against the blasphemous statements given by US leaders about Pakistan or their strength and determination only shall prove balloon’s air?

    Recommend

  • exseeiay
    Sep 24, 2011 - 10:33AM

    america has already lost the war, now it is trying to save whatever face left over its undeterred uniterrupted unending bombing to kill a few ragtag militants. US has been in afghanistan for 10 years with all best coalition the world has ever seen, and they are still blaming Pakistan.
    why can’t they just make a wall b/w borders of the two countries, matter solved, nothing goes in afghanistan thru Pakistan and nothing comes into Pakistan. live and let live.

    Recommend

  • Sep 24, 2011 - 10:40AM

    We do not need their 1 billion dollar per year with so many ifs and butts.Recommend

  • MK
    Sep 24, 2011 - 11:00AM

    Read Gen.Kayani face expression. Totally aggressive

    Recommend

  • faraz
    Sep 24, 2011 - 11:52AM

    @Abdur Rehman

    OBL’s 3 wives and 14 children are in Pakistan’s custody. Alqeda admits he is dead, ISI/GHQ says he is dead, US says he is dead, Taliban say he is dead. Come out the state of denial.

    Recommend

  • Sane
    Sep 24, 2011 - 1:04PM

    USA wants pakistan to alienate Taliban so that Taliban can be connected with India and USA thus making Afghanistan a place under Indian/US control rather than Pakistani/Chineses control……….

    Lets fight for our intersts in the region and keep indians and americans out of this region

    Recommend

  • jawad siddiqi
    Sep 24, 2011 - 1:15PM

    @Rakeshna .Bhatia:
    Rakeshna .. the let the US first prove the success of its presence in Afghanistan ! .. after being in Kabul its vying to hold talks with taliban .. and that too on the terms of taliban .. and plz for a change please stop being in awe of white skin now !!!!! .. specially americans !! .. they cant dare to attack any strong country where they dont have internal mercnaries to fight for them ! .. let alone north korea, iran or pakistan ! ..

    Recommend

  • adil
    Sep 24, 2011 - 1:21PM

    @Rakeshna .Bhatia:

    Do you need proofs for US us doing in Pakistan…….ask so called Raymond Davis.

    Recommend

  • Sep 24, 2011 - 1:26PM

    BEFORE 8 days of his retirement, Mr Mullen got ample news coverage yet his long tenure showed a different data than his last speech. his retirement is fixed in august. On May 30, 2011, General Dempsey was selected by President Barack Obama to become the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was confirmed by the United States Senate in August 2011 by unanimous consent.[1] He is expected to succeed Admiral Michael Mullen when Mullen’s term ends on September 30, 2011. for those who r relay interested to know the complexity of the mater, Jason Burke already published a well reference book 9/11 WARS published by penguin which has lot of inside stories regarding in-fighting among various groups and institutions. Pakistani media as usual reacted without knowing the retirement of officer. yet nusrat javed took the credit to pin point the retirement timely.

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  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Sep 24, 2011 - 1:49PM

    The Americans say they have “CREDIBLE INTELLIGENCE”. Once before for Iraq they had “CREDIBLE INTELLIGENCE” against weapons of mass destruction and Collin Powell made a fool of himself lying to the Security Council.Once again the Americans are at it, LYING!!!!

    Recommend

  • ishtiaer hussain
    Sep 24, 2011 - 2:00PM

    Now there will be no aid from the US, no loan from IMF on easy conditions and no new taxes to raise government’s revenue and the Dollar will soon shoot beyond 100 Rupees. Inflation would make everybody crazy. Nobody thinks about these issues affecting the lives of tens of millions poor pakistanis. We can’t afford to have America as our adversary at this point in time. Recommend

  • ahmed saeed
    Sep 24, 2011 - 2:26PM

    Excellent job Ms Khar. Purely ZA Bhutto’s reply.

    Recommend

  • ahmed saeed
    Sep 24, 2011 - 2:29PM

    Rakeshna Bhatia
    Were you there when they killed OBL? We wish you are there too when they hang Haqqani.

    Recommend

  • Alami Musafir
    Sep 24, 2011 - 2:38PM

    Well done Hina ! This lady has proven her detractors wrong and has shown more balls guts our previous male foreign ministers, with the exception of Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

    Instead of cutting our nonexistent ties with the Haqqani network we should show the Americans the door and immediately form a military alliance with Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Recommend

  • Menon
    Sep 24, 2011 - 5:01PM

    @Alami Musafir:

    Immeditely form an allinace with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Turkey and Saudi Arabia said, no thank you but Iran and N. Korea accepted.

    Your aspirations to be like Iran and N. Korea is admirable and you may get your wish sooner than you think.

    Recommend

  • Mohan Ram
    Sep 24, 2011 - 5:04PM

    @Abdur Rehman:

    Did they not kill him on Pakistani soil, that too on the doorstep of your military cantonment
    or are you in total dinal.

    Recommend

  • Salman
    Sep 24, 2011 - 5:05PM

    @ faraz

    They could have been planted as well. Its strange to see that, US explicitly left them instead of picking them. Saddam was caught alive, they aired it live. They released his sons dead bodies pics when they were killed in Mosul during an operation.

    Recommend

  • faraz
    Sep 24, 2011 - 7:09PM

    @Salman

    So OBL’s wives could have told the Pak army that they were brought from another place and left at the compound.

    Recommend

  • John B
    Sep 24, 2011 - 7:42PM

    The first step to recover from addiction is to acknowledge the addiction. PAK needs to recover from addiction of denial, conspiracy, IMF bashing and others. Any one will do to start with for her recovery step.

    Recommend

  • Rakeshna .Bhatia
    Sep 25, 2011 - 12:15AM

    @Abdur Rehman :And where did they give you the proof of OBL’s presence ?
    They did not have to give anyone proof they saw they arranged and swiftly swept and killed you don’t need proof when you have a dead body and in spite of all you naysayers Al-Qadea has accepted his death.
    @adil:: Do you need proofs for US us doing in Pakistan…….ask so called Raymond Davis.
    Grow up are you so used to dealing with weaklings that you are still stuck on Raymond Davis – have you not heard the term the man who has the most guns (moves)AMERICA wins – we Pakistanis lost that battle because we are what we are…
    @ahmed saeed _Were you there when they killed OBL? We wish you are there too when they hang Haqqani. I rejoiced and prayed and fasted for a week I unlike you can recognize a monster born in a country that refuses to protect me and my family.When they hang Haqqani. i want him to feel the pain he has done to my people I will wear my RED sari and distribute sweets unlike you who support terrorist like him to support a false anti-America hysteria.
    @jawad siddiqi- please stop being in awe of white skin now !!!!! . I am not in awe of white skins I am sick of “brown skins” that are in denial…conspiracy…blame others who are gutless in trying to protect my MOTHERLAND!

    Recommend

  • ayesha
    Sep 25, 2011 - 2:17AM

    @Arsalan:
    “We do not need their 1 billion dollar per year with so many ifs and butts.”
    A billion dollars is 200 times the 5 million dollars that your true friend China has promised to give you.

    Recommend

  • Sep 25, 2011 - 2:08PM

    @Sane: Why not leave Afghanistan alone

    Recommend

  • Sep 25, 2011 - 2:17PM

    @Sane: Please keep the Taliban with you .

    Recommend

  • Rakeshna .Bhatia
    Sep 25, 2011 - 10:33PM

    @ayesha – you think China is your true friend , sister think again ask then why they have so many political prisoners and why they do not allow religious freedom and trying to squash the Tibet movement if that is your definition of true friend then Pakistan is doomed.
    Recommend

  • Kalahikhe
    Sep 26, 2011 - 2:05PM

    If Pakistan does not get the aid from US, there will be Civil war in Pak within 6 to 8 months time.US has been Pakistan’s real friend and Pak is making the biggest blunder of fighting with them and for whose sake … for the sake of the terror based Haqqani Network? Truly terrible times are on for Pakistan, the worst ever.

    Any hindsight views … where is the Pakistan that Jinnah wanted? How and by whom was Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan destroyed?? And how many true friends does Pakistan really have today???Recommend

  • Kalahikhe
    Sep 26, 2011 - 2:14PM

    @SH:
    Khar well done … and due to your immaturity entire Pak will now have Fun!Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Sep 26, 2011 - 9:38PM

    @Abdur Rehman:

    And where did they give you the proof
    of OBL’s presence ?

    Did you ever see air?….no?
    then what’s the proof that you are even breathing it?

    Recommend

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