For a moment as a senior Pakistani military official spoke to ABC News about his country's most important international relationship, his emotions seemed to get the better of him.
"The U.S. is saying, 'My way or the high way,'" the official said, and slammed his hand down on his desk. "They're going solo." Exasperated, the official told ABC News that "our so-called coalition partner" had put the military at odds with its own population.
"You've pitted us against our own people," he said. "And if you make us choose, of course how can we not choose our own people?"
For years, Pakistan and the U.S. have struggled to maintain a partnership despite constant tension. But a recent spike in CIA drone strikes and a very public disagreement over the detention of a CIA employee who shot and killed two men in Pakistan have created the widest rift yet between the two nations.
Senior military officials on both sides seem fed up. The wide-ranging interview with the Pakistani military official occurred just days before President Obama's top military advisor launched what a Pakistani newspaper called a "diatribe" against Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), an arm of the Pakistani military.
In interviews with Western journalists in Afghanistan and in three separate interviews with Pakistani journalists, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen accused the ISI of supporting the Haqqani network, the most lethal militant group operating against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
"It's fairly well known that the ISI has a longstanding relationship with the Haqqani network," Mullen said to Pakistani reporters during a visit to the region. "Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners. And I have a sacred obligation to do all I can to make sure that doesn't happen."
The Pakistani military then responded in kind -- with a statement released at 2:00 a.m. in Pakistan. After a meeting between Mullen and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army's spokesman "strongly rejected negative propaganda of Pakistan not doing enough and Pakistan Army's lack of clarity on the way forward."
Officials on both sides say the strong public criticism does not signify a collapse in the multi-billion dollar relationship that is at the center of efforts to eradicate Al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups. And Pakistani government officials say the military is less angry with the U.S. than it publicly claims. But officials on both sides admit the relationship is more strained than at any point since 9/11, and the Pakistani military, for one, is threatening reprisals if it doesn't improve.
The senior Pakistani military official disparaged a recent drone strike, launched less than two days after ISI Director-General Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha asked CIA Director Leon Panetta to rein in some U.S. intelligence operations inside Pakistan. The Pakistani military, the official said, was furious at the timing of the strike, which was akin to "asking us to take a walk."
"They're going solo," the official repeated, "bypassing the Pakistani authorities."
While the drone strike successfully targeted Taliban fighters, the official argued "that's not the point." It increased anti-American sentiment and therefore makes it more difficult for the military to work with the U.S., he said.