Before today, never has a U.S. official so bluntly and publicly linked the government of Pakistan to attacks on American troops in Afghanistan.
Today on the Hill, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence Agency [ISI] supported a group of terrorists who carried out two recent attacks on U.S. targets in Afghanistan, becoming the first U.S. official to so directly accuse Pakistan of supporting terrorism against the U.S.
“With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted the truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy,” Mullen said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “We also have credible intelligence that they were behind the June 28 attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations.”
The attacks have been spectacular — a Sept. 11 truck bombing of a U.S. base in Wardak Province that left 77 soldiers wounded and five Afghans dead, and another extraordinarily bold attack on U.S. military and embassy personnel just last week that lasted all day.
The U.S. gives Pakistan billions of dollars in aid to fight terrorism — money that in part the U.S. now believes has been going to help the very enemies who are trying to kill Americans. The Haqqani terrorists are headquartered in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Mullen said by exporting violence, Pakistan’s ISI has eroded the country’s internal security and its position in the region.
“They have undermined their international credibility and threatened their economic well-being,” Mullen said.
It is not clear what the U.S. plans to do about this, or what real options there are. Yet, if Mullen’s public accusation is the opening round in a war of words, Mullen began with a rocket attack, and Pakistan will most surely fire back.