Pakistan takes ‘serious exception’ to Pentagon report, conveys protest

Islamabad: Pakistan Wednesday took “serious exception” to the Pentagon report critical of Islamabad, including its “unsubstantiated allegations” of the existence of terrorist “sanctuaries” or that proxy forces were operating from Pakistan against Afghanistan and India.

The foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that Pakistan’s protest over “these unwarranted comments” had been conveyed by Sartaj Aziz, adviser to the prime minister on national security and foreign affairs, to US Ambassador Richard Olson at the foreign ministry Wednesday.

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It said “such allegations are of particular concern at this point when Pakistan government has launched comprehensive operations against militants in North Waziristan”.

The military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ has been broadly welcomed internationally, including in the US,” the statement said.

“The operation has successfully eliminated terrorist hideouts and is directed against all militants, without any distinction. We therefore hope that the issues will be seen in their correct perspective,” it said.

The Pentagon, in a report running into more than 100 pages, Tuesday accused Islamabad of being a safe haven for terrorists targeting both India and Afghanistan, and told the US Congress that Pakistan used these tactics to counter the superior Indian forces.

“Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India’s superior military,” the report read.

“India has shown increased interest in Afghan security assistance, though activities in the area remain limited. India currently offers India based training to ANSF personnel across a number of specialties and the Indian government committed to expand this programme. India does not provide direct military support or training in Afghanistan,” the report added.

The Pentagon also accused Pakistan-based militants of bombing the Indian consulate in Herat in May, naming terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba as the culprits.

The Indian government had welcomed the assessment of Pentagon that Pakistan has become a safe havens for terrorists.

“If the international community is now acknowledging the fact that terrorism derives support from Pakistan, it’s something that we welcome,” Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, said in a statement Tuesday.