Pakistan is reacting strongly to U.S. allegations it is letting militants use Pakistani soil as a safe haven and base of operations.
The Foreign Ministry slammed Washington and comments by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Saturday, charging that Panetta “is oversimplifying some very complex issues.”
It also said the allegations raised by Panetta during a recent trip to Kabul were also “misplaced and unhelpful in bringing about peace and stability in the region.”
The foreign ministry statement followed similarly critical remarks by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, made to Chinese state-run television late Friday.
“It is proven in the world now that all the world together has not been able to defeat this monster called terrorism in Afghanistan so to expect Pakistan to face it alone is unfair, Pakistan is doing its best,” Zardari said.
New York Times newspaper reporter and Afghan analyst Ismail Khan told VOA’s Deewa Radio that Panetta’s comments, and the Pakistani response, should come as no surprise.
“Whenever there is a surge in violence in Afghanistan, or the casualty rises, U.S. officials attribute the increasing attacks to terrorists in the tribal areas of Pakistan,” said Khan.
Panetta has said stabilization efforts in Afghanistan will remain difficult as long as militants had safe havens in Pakistan. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry says it is following a “well thought-out strategy to eradicate extremism and terrorism, and will follow its own timeline.”
Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been strained over a host of issues recently, including Pakistan’s closing the border to NATO trucks in response to the killing of 24 Pakistani troops by NATO forces.
The statement from the Pakistani foreign ministry comes as U.S. assistant defense secretary Peter Lavoy visits Islamabad in a fresh attempt to end Islamabad’s six-month blockade of NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan.
Pakistan closed the border to NATO supply convoys following air strikes last November that killed 24 soldiers. Relations between the two nations also sank after Pakistan was humiliated by the U.S. raid that killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil last May.