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Pakistan claims victory over US Haqqani spat

Pakistan’s prime minister has claimed victory over the US after American officials backed away from accusing his country’s intelligence services of supporting the Haqqani network.


During a public address at the weekend, Yousuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan’s political parties had united to face down the US.

“It is the victory of Pakistani nation, political parties as well as the government’s policy of reconciliation,” he said.

Last month Adml Mike Mullen, in his last few days before retiring as America’s most senior military officer, said the Haqqani network, one of the most feared insurgent groups in Afghanistan, was a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency.

He accused Pakistan of exporting violence and also blamed the ISI for directing a 19hr attack on the US embassy and Nato headquarters in Kabul on September 13, as he stepped up demands that Pakistan act against Haqqani bases in North Waziristan.

His statement was the climax of a string of apparently carefully choreographed allegations by senior Administration officials – including the US ambassador to Islamabad – that Pakistan’s intelligence service was closely connected to the Haqqanis.

However, with relations between the two countries close to breaking point, the US appeared to row back with a series of statements emphasising the importance of the alliance.

On Friday, President Barack Obama made a point of not endorsing Adml Mullen’s accusations.

He admitted that the intelligence was not clear on the exact nature of the relationship between the ISI and the Haqqanis.

The reversal has been greeted with glee in Islamabad.

Mr Gilani, who was speaking at Bili Wala in Punjab, said an all-party conference (APC) held last week had been instrumental in forcing the US to back down.

“It is due to APC as well as the unity of Pakistan’s political leaders that the US has a sent a message that they need Pakistan and that they cannot win the war without Pakistan,” he said. “They have also distanced themselves from the statement of Mullen.”

The climb-down also suggests the US knew it had few options to increase pressure, without risking a total breakdown in relations and the deployment of American forces to Pakistan.

“US options are limited as we don’t want a larger war in south Asia,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who advised the White House on Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009 and a fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank.”

Filed in: World News

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