Hours after a top American military official said that ISI's continued links with the militant Haqqani network are at the core of the strained US-Pak ties, Pakistan's powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has strongly rejected the notion calling it "negative propaganda".
Kayani, in a statement, contended that Pakistan Army's "ongoing operations (against militants) are a testimony of our national resolve to defeat terrorism".)
Kayani's statement came after Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff who was on a visit to Pakistan on Wednesday, referred to the military-run ISI's links to the Taliban faction led by militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani that is based in the country's North Waziristan tribal region.
"It's fairly well known that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has a longstanding relationship with the Haqqani network and addressing the Haqqani network from my perspective is critical to the solution set in Afghanistan...that's at the core — it's not the only thing — but that's at the core, that I think is the most difficult part of the relationship," he had said.
"Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners. And I have a sacred obligation to do all I can to make sure that doesn't happen," Mullen told the Dawn newspaper.
Mullen also said in an interview with a television channel that elements in the ISI, and not the whole spy agency, were linked to the Haqqani network.
"The ISI has a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network. That doesn't mean everyone in the ISI, but it's there," he said.
"The ISI has a rich history of how they operated in this part of the world, to protect their own country. I understand that some of the aspects of that we strongly disagree with, and that is something that we continue to address," he said.
The Haqqani network's presence in the tribal areas has long been a sore point in the US-Pakistan ties and Mullen's remarks indicated a hardening of the American stance.
The situation led to the conclusion "that...the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan is the epicentre of terrorism in the world," Mullen said.