Islamabad may break with its longtime allies

Pakistani leaders reject US allegations that its spy agency is supporting Haqqanis with a statement also calling for peace with Afghan militants. The move is likely to bring Pakistan to a crossroads with longtime allies the US and Afghanistan
Activists of Pakistan’s religious hardline party Jamiat Ulema Islam, or JUI, shout anti-US slogans during a protest rally to condemn US threats in Islamabad on Friday.

Activists of Pakistan’s religious hardline party Jamiat Ulema Islam, or JUI, shout anti-US slogans during a protest rally to condemn US threats in Islamabad on Friday.

U.S. missile strike targeting a vehicle killed three suspected militants in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border Friday, two Pakistani officials said. The latest strike comes amid increasing tensions between Islamabad and Washington following a recent claim by top U.S. military officer Adm. Mike Mullen that Pakistan’s main spy agency had backed the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.

More than 40 political party leaders in Pakistan signed a resolution after a 10-hour meeting in the capital called by Prime Minister Reza Yousuf Gilani to formulate a response to fresh American claims. U.S. officials say the Haqqani group, which carries out attacks against American targets in Afghanistan, is based on the Pakistani side of the Afghan borde.

The vaguely worded resolution, born of compromise between the country’s feuding parties and reflective of many of their anti-American and pro-Islamist views, called for peace with insurgents in Afghanistan. It also said the country should seek dialogue with Pakistanis in the tribal regions close to Afghanistan, apparently in reference to militants there battling the Pakistani state.

Kabul approaches India

The head of the army and the country’s main intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, which together control Islamabad’s policy toward Afghanistan, addressed the meeting, which was closed to the media. Though U.S. demands were not met in the resolution, it emphasized the friendly relations with Afghanistan. “We need to further enhance our brotherly bilateral relations with Afghanistan at three levels on a priority basis: government to government, institution to institution and people to people,” it said.

The resolution comes as Afghanistan’s president and other senior leaders announced Thursday that they were rethinking the country’s relationship with Pakistan and its negotiations with the Taliban because talks had yielded so little. Parallel with the U.S. stance, many Afghans have long accused Pakistan and its ISI of backing insurgent groups to further Islamabad’s own interests. As a result, the leaders said, they planned to work closely with the United States, Europe and India to plan the country’s future, the New York Times reported. “Despite three years of talks, coming and going, good intentions and efforts, made by Afghanistan for peace and the initiation of good relations with Pakistan, the Pakistani government has not taken any measures for closing down its terrorist safe havens nor prevented the training and equipping of terrorists on its soil,” the Afghan statement said.

One measure of Afghan frustration was the statement’s specific mention of the prospect of a strategic partnership with India, in addition to the United States and Europe. Pakistan considers India its archenemy, and by mentioning it, Afghanistan appeared to be positioning itself in opposition to Pakistan, despite their longtime relationship.



Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.

Friday, September 30, 2011