After accusing Pakistan of not doing enough, the US on Thursday held it directly responsible for recent terrorist attacks carried out by the Haqqani network in Afghanistan including one on the US embassy in Kabul.
"The Haqqani Network — which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency — is responsible for the September 13 attacks against the US Embassy in Kabul," said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff told the Senate armed services committee Thursday.
Mullen also blamed the Haqqani network responsible for the attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and June 28 and a truck bomb attack on September 10 killing five people and injuring 96, 77 of them US soldiers.
The US has long accused Pakistan of not only giving shelter to terrorist outfits such as the Haqqani network and Lashkar-i-Tayyeba but using them to further its strategic interests.
Mullen called the Haqqani network a "strategic arm" of the ISI.
US has ratcheted up pressure on Pakistan in recent months specially after the discovery of Osama bin Laden -- "hiding in plain sight", as the US has repeatedly said – in Abbottabad, a cantonment town not very far from Islamabad.
Relations between the two countries had plummeted, plumbing new lows with every instance of terrorist strike traced back to outfits based in Pakistan. But Islamabad has resisted pressure to act against the Haqqani network.
But time could be running out on it.
"The actions by the Pakistani government to support them—actively and passively—represent a growing problem that is undermining U.S. interests and may violate international norms, potentially warranting sanction," said Mullen.
US military aid to Pakistan has now been linked to its actions against terrorists and reports suggest the existence of an itemized scorecard that determines now how much of the promised amount will actually be released.
Mullen, who is now retiring, has been a supporter of continued engagement with Pakistan and has been a key US interlocutor dealing with the military, which he blamed Thursday of supporting the Haqqanis.
Earlier this week, secretary of state Hillary Clinton met Pakistani foreign minister Hina Khar on the sidelines of the UNGA, and, according to US officials, "(the) issue of the Haqqani Network was … the first thing on the Secretary's agenda and also the last".
The US has also been frustrated by the Pakistani government's decision some months ago to severely restrict its ability to carry out operations in the region, forcing it to cut personnel and denying them a base to launch from.
This was the direct fallout of the Raymond Davies affair. And it is said to have intensified since the bin Laden operation, which itself was launched from across the border in Jalalabad in Afghanistan.