US openly accuses Pakistan of waging ‘proxy war’ in Afghanistan

Mike Mullen

Mike Mullen

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
For the first time a senior American official has openly accused the intelligence services of Pakistan of using Taliban-linked groups to wage a “proxy war” in neighboring Afghanistan. United States Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has described the Haqqani Network, an insurgent group closely allied with the Taliban, as Pakistan’s proxy-army in Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network, which is considered by US military commanders as “the most resilient insurgent force in Afghanistan”, is widely seen as responsible for the massive attack on the US embassy and several other targets in Kabul, earlier this month. Some military observers have compared the attacks to the 1968 Tet Offensive by the Viet Cong. Speaking on Tuesday at an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Admiral Mullen said he had pressed the government and intelligence agencies of Pakistan to break their links with the Haqqani Network. He did so during a recent meeting with the chief of Pakistan’s armed forces, which reportedly lasted over four hours. By “intelligence services”, Mullen means the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), Pakistan’s most powerful spy agency. According to Admiral Mullen, the meeting centered on “the need for the […] ISI to disconnect from [the] Haqqani [Network] and from this proxy war that they’re fighting” in Afghanistan. He also said that “the ISI has been […] supporting proxies for an extended period of time” and described the ISI-Haqqani collaboration as “a strategy in the country”, rather than simply a series of isolated incidents by shadowy groups operating within the Pakistani intelligence services. In the past, Washington has accused the ISI of “looking the other way” when the Haqqani Network strikes NATO and Afghan government forces in Afghanistan. But Admiral Mullen’s comments mark an unprecedented heightening of America’s criticism of Pakistani regional policy, and risk further damaging relations between the two countries. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that American officials recently delivered “an ultimatum” to Islamabad, saying that if Pakistan does not terminate its links with Haqqani and tear down the Network, then “the United States will act unilaterally”.

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