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Pakistan says U.S. warning on militants hurts ties

Sep 15, 2011, 12:43 p.m.
An Afghan policeman looks at the bodies of Taliban insurgents (behind the wall) who were killed after the building that they took over was recaptured by NATO and Afghan security forces near the U.S. embassy in Kabul, September 14, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Panetta, who was CIA director until July, has long pressed Islamabad to go after the Haqqanis, seen as the most dangerous of the Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting U.S.-led NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence has long been suspected of maintaining ties with the Haqqani network, cultivated during the 1980s when Jalaluddin Haqqani was a feared battlefield commander against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Pakistan says it has no links to the group.

Panetta said he was concerned about the Haqqanis' ability to attack American troops and then "escape back into what is a safe haven in Pakistan."

"And that's unacceptable," Panetta said.

Last month, Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, cited progress curtailing Haqqani group movements within Afghanistan.

Going after the Haqqani network could be risky for Pakistan's army, which is already stretched fighting Taliban militants determined to topple the U.S.-backed government.

"They (Americans) should not dump their failures on this side of the border always, look at their resources, intelligence and surveillance capabilities," said another senior Pakistani military official.

"The militants are not only going from this side of the border, they have their presence and support groups inside Afghanistan and such attacks are being planned and coordinated by those groups."

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Phil Stewart in San Francisco; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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