Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the security of US, Nato or Isaf forces in Afghanistan, said Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in a policy statement at a donors’ conference on Saturday.
Condemning the “propaganda blitz against Pakistan,” the premier said that the public recrimination is “most unfortunate … vitiates the atmosphere and is counter-productive.”
The policy statement comes amid increasingly strained ties between Pakistan and the United States, following a volley of accusations vis-à-vis Pakistan’s alleged ties with the Haqqani network.
The blame game tends to ignore the sacrifices by the people of Pakistan and negates all that the country has endeavoured to achieve over the last so many years, the premier said.
Gilani added that the allegations “betray a confusion and policy disarray within the US establishment on the way forward in Afghanistan.”
“While there have been terrorist attacks in Kabul and Wardak, there have also been numerous attacks on Pakistan launched from sanctuaries and safe havens in Nuristan and Kunar in Afghanistan. It is as much the responsibility of the Afghan National Army, Nato and Isaf not to allow such cross-border militancy,” the premier was quoted as saying.
“Let’s be objective and not get carried away by emotions,” the premier bluntly suggested to the United States.
Warning against unilateral action
Pakistan talked tough for a second straight day and warned the United States against any unilateral action on its soil, as head of the US Central Command General James Mattis met Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani here on Saturday.
The US embassy in Islamabad confirmed that the meeting took place but refrained from sharing any details while the military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), initially neither confirmed nor denied the meeting.
“I don’t have full details of the meeting between Gen James and Gen Kiyani but I can confirm that Gen James arrived here on the weekend and has met Gen Kiyani,” said spokesperson for the US embassy in Islamabad Mark Stroh. “It is a regularly scheduled visit,” he added.
Sources said the Haqqani network and overall security situation of the region were discussed during the meeting.
“We have already made clear (to the US) that there will be a strong reaction to any unilateral offensive within our borders,” a Pakistani military official said. Gen Kayani also protested over cross-border attacks on Pakistani territory emanating from the Afghan soil, sources said.
Meanwhile, according to CBS news, cell phones recovered from the killed insurgents who had attacked the US embassy in Kabul last week revealed that the phones were used to call Pakistani intelligence operatives before and during the assault.
It is this evidence that led US Joint Chiefs of Staff chief Admiral Mike Mullen to announce in public that the Haqqani network is a “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence, CBS News reported on Saturday.
Khar stays on offensive
Over in the US, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, on Saturday, also warned the United States against sending ground troops to fight the Haqqanis.
Khar said that there are red lines and rules of engagement with America, which should not be broken.
“It opens all kinds of doors and all kinds of options,” she was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. The comment was in response to a question about the possibility of US troops coming to Pakistan.
Khar, however, insisted that Pakistan’s policy was to seek a more intensive engagement with the US and that she would like to discourage any blame game.
“If many of your goals are not achieved, you do not make someone a scapegoat,” she said.
“There should be no ambiguity in any one’s mind that we will be unguarded again,” said a military official, referring to a possible unilateral strike like the May 2 operation when US helicopters entered deep inside the Pakistani territory undetected and killed the al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.
“It will not happen any more … if two bullets are fired from the other side, we have to respond with two. This is standard procedure in such situations,” the official added when asked about the military strategy in case of a ground offensive or an aerial strike, besides drones, by the US forces.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2011.