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Central & South Asia
Pakistan PM warns US on 'negative messaging'
Yousuf Reza Gilani tells Washington to desist from levelling accusations that stoke anti-Americanism in his country.
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2011 15:37
Ties between Pakistan and the US have worsened since ISI was accused of supporting armed group [Reuters]

Pakistan's prime minister has warned the United States that continued accusations of playing a double game in the "war on militancy" only risked fanning anti-Americanism in his country.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, speaking in an interview with Reuters news agency on Tuesday, also said any unilateral military action by the US to hunt down fighters of Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network inside Pakistan would be a violation of his country's sovereignty.
 
Relations between Washington and Islamabad have deteriorated sharply following last week's blunt allegations by the US joint chiefs of staff that Pakistan's military intelligence agency was linked to fighters who carried out a September 13 attack on the US embassy in Kabul.

"The negative messaging, naturally that is disturbing my people," Gilani said in the interview.

"If there is messaging that is not appropriate to our friendship, then naturally it is extremely difficult to convince my public," he said. "Therefore they should be sending positive messages."

ISI role

Although Pakistan officially abandoned support for the Taliban after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001 and allied itself with Washington's "war on terror", analysts say elements of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) refused to make the doctrinal shift.

In his stunning testimony last week, outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen bluntly described the Haqqani network, the most violent and effective faction among Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, as a "veritable arm" of the ISI.
 
It was the most serious allegation levelled by Washington against the nuclear-armed South Asian nation since 2001, and the first time it had held Islamabad responsible for an attack against the United States.

Asked how Islamabad would respond if there was a unilateral military operation by the United States inside Pakistan to go after the Haqqanis, Gilani responded: "We are a sovereign country. How can they come and raid in our country?"

He said Pakistan had conveyed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that such unilateral action "will not be acceptable to Pakistan".

Visit cancelled

Pakistan's army chief on Monday cancelled a planned visit to Britain amid escalating tensions between Islamabad and Washington over security.

Britain's defence ministry said General Ashfaq Kayani had been due to meet UK defence minister Liam Fox for a private meeting in London.

The ministry declined to speculate on why the visit was cancelled.

Kayani was also scheduled to address the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Royal College of Defence Studies.

A Pakistani official said Kayani was staying in Pakistan to hold talks on the crisis sparked by the US accusations.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Kayani met his army commanders in the capital, Islamabad, on Sunday, days after Mullen's remarks to Congress.

Without giving further details on Sunday's meeting, Major-General Athar Abbas, the Pakistani army spokesman, said: "The prevailing security situation was discussed."

Source:
Agencies
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