Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday rejected US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta's recent comments on militant safe havens in Pakistan.

“We feel that the Secretary of Defence is oversimplifying some of the very complex issues we are all dealing with in our efforts against extremism and terrorism,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“We strongly believe that such statements are misplaced and unhelpful in bringing about peace and stability in the region.”

Panetta said on Thursday during a trip to Afghanistan that stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan would remain difficult as long as militants had safe havens in Pakistan.

“It is very important for Pakistan to take steps. It is an increasing concern, the issue of safe haven, and we are reaching the limits of our patience,” he said, using some of the strongest language from a senior US official on Washington's strained relations with Islamabad.

US officials often describe Pakistan as an unreliable partner in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and demand tougher action against militant groups, especially those said to be based in Pakistan's tribal regions.

The United States wants Pakistan to go after the Haqqani group, which is close to the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda, and is blamed for some of the deadliest attacks on Western forces in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has repeatedly said that it will not allow its territory to be used against any country, nor will it allow any safe havens on its territory,” the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, adding that Islamabad will “follow its own timeline” and strategy on operations against militants.


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