Kabul 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ahmad Masood)
ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON - Pakistan warned the United States it risks losing an ally if it continued to accuse Islamabad of playing a double game in the war against militancy, escalating the crisis in relations between the two countries.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was responding to comments by US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who said Pakistan's top spy agency was closely tied to the Haqqani network, the most violent and effective faction among Islamic Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan.
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It is the most serious allegation levelled by the United States against nuclear-armed and Muslim-majority Pakistan since they began an alliance in the war on terror a decade ago.
"You will lose an ally," Khar told Geo TV in New York in remarks broadcast on Friday.
"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 [the United States'] own cost."
Mullen, speaking in Senate testimony, alleged Haqqani operatives launched an attack last week on the US embassy in Kabul with the support of Pakistan's military intelligence.
The tensions could have repercussions across Asia, from India,
Pakistan's economically booming arch-rival, to China, which has edged
closer to Pakistan in recent years.
A complete break between the United States and Pakistan -- sometimes
friends, often adversaries -- seems unlikely, if only because Washington
depends on Pakistan as a route to supply US troops fighting terrorists
in Afghanistan, and as a base for unmanned US drones.
Pakistan relies on Washington for military and economic aid and for acting as a backer on the world stage.
But support in the US Congress for curbing assistance or making conditions on aid more stringent is rising rapidly.
The unilateral US Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden in
Pakistan in May took already fragile relations between Pakistan and the
United States to a low.