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US senator warns Pakistan over links with Haqqanis

October 21, 2011


US Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) addresses the Council on Foreign Relations October 21, 2011 in Washington, DC.—AFP Photo

WASHINGTON: If Pakistan continued to retain links with the Haqqani network, the United States will have no option but to break diplomatic ties with Islamabad, the chairman of a powerful congressional committee warned on Friday.

Senator Carl Levin also threatened to attack terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and the “people who are controlling these forces”.

At the White House, a senior White House aide advised Pakistan to understand the strength of America's conviction by the composition of the delegation that concluded a two-day visit to Islamabad on Friday.

And US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who led the delegation that included the CIA and military chiefs, told Fox News that the United States has shown Pakistan the proof of the involvement of some Pakistani intelligence and military officials with the militants.

Senator Carl Levin said in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington that he too had seen evidence of “direct support” between the ISI and the Haqqani network, echoing a comment made last month by then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen.

“Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar recently said that if the United States persists in allegations about the ISI-Haqqani connection, the United States 'will lose an ally',” said the senator.

“Our response should be that if the only option Pakistan presents us is a choice between losing an ally and continuing to lose our troops, then we will choose the former.”

Senator Levin also urged the Obama administration to place the Haqqani network on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations as soon as possible.

He claimed that he personally had repeatedly urged President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and General Kayani to act to eliminate the terrorist sanctuaries.

“We owe it to our military men and women sent into harm's way that we challenge Pakistan over its support for the extremist groups that are attacking our troops, Afghan troops and civilians from Pakistani territory,” said the US senator.—Correspondent