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Officials: No action against Haqqani network by Pakistan military

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:06 PM EDT, Mon September 26, 2011
Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen (R), made allegations last week that Pakistan's Intelligence agency has direct links with the Haqqani network.
Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen (R), made allegations last week that Pakistan's Intelligence agency has direct links with the Haqqani network.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. and Pakistani military leaders met over the weekend
  • Pakistan's military decides not to take action against the Haqqani network
  • Official: The U.S. is using Pakistan as a scapegoat for its failed policy in Afghanistan

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Pakistani Army has decided not to take action against the Haqqani network for the time being despite a fresh wave of intense pressure from Washington for a military offensive against the Pakistani-based militant group, two military officials told CNN on Monday.

The decision was made by senior Pakistani generals on Sunday in an impromptu meeting called by Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the officials said.

The military has decided not to target the Haqqani network because the army is stretched too thin with several other operations against militants in northwest Pakistan, one of the officials said. "We are not in a position to undertake an operation at this point," he said.

The meeting of Pakistan's top generals comes days after the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, accused Pakistan's top intelligence agency of supporting the Haqqani network and its attacks against U.S. targets in Afghanistan, including the attack two weeks ago on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Mullen's statement has further ratcheted up tensions between Islamabad and Washington and sparked a bitter war of words.

"The allegation of Pakistan's involvement in the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is just a conspiracy against us," one of the officials said.

The official accused Washington of using Pakistan as a "scapegoat" for its failed policy in Afghanistan.

Kayani, meanwhile, has canceled a scheduled trip to the United Kingdom this week, a Pakistani military official said. The official would not say why Kayani canceled, but the cancellation comes a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani called for a meeting on Thursday between the heads of Pakistan's political parties and top military and intelligence officials.

The meeting will focus on the recent U.S. allegations against Pakistan, an official from the prime minister's office said.

"The proposed meeting will send a strong message that the nation stands united when the defense and security of the country is at stake," the official said. "Political differences in domestic politics do not come in the way of national and foreign policy issues, which are above party politics."

The officials asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Cameron Munter, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, met with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir on Monday, according to the U.S. Embassy. The two discussed a broad range of regional issues and the current challenges in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, said embassy spokesman Mark Stroh.

Stroh did not say whether Munter and Bashir discussed the pressure from Washington regarding the Haqqani network.

The meeting followed a weekend visit to Pakistan by U.S. Gen. James Mattis, the commander of U.S. Central Command. Mattis met with Kayani as well as Gen. Khalid Wynne, the chief of staff of the Pakistan armed forces.

"Gen. Mattis meets and talks routinely with both generals to discuss U.S.-Pakistan military activities, the coalition campaign in Afghanistan and broader regional issues," said a statement from the U.S. embassy.

"The generals had candid discussions about the current challenges in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship," the statement said. "However, Gen. Mattis also emphasized the vital role the Pakistan military plays in international security efforts to protect the Pakistani and Afghan people and the need for persistent engagement among the militaries of the U.S., Pakistan and other states in the region."

The Pakistani military said in a statement that Wynne, during the meeting, "expressed his concern about the negative statements emanating from the United States. He stressed addressing the irritants in the relationship, which are a result of an extremely complex situation."

In a statement Friday, the White House demanded that Pakistan break its links with the Haqqani network despite Pakistan's insistence that it does not support the group.

Gilani has instructed Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to forcefully project Pakistan's point of view when she addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, according to a statement from Gilani's office.

-- CNN's Reza Sayah and Nasir Habib contributed to this report.

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