A top Pakistani general on Sunday expressed concern over US allegations of links to insurgents, stressing that peace in the region would only be possible through mutual trust and cooperation.
General Khalid Shameem Wyne, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, conveyed his reaction to General James Mattis, commander of the US Central Command, the military said in a statement.
Their meeting followed scathing criticism by top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen that Pakistan was “exporting” terror to neighbouring Afghanistan.
“Both leaders discussed various matters of mutual interests and emerging geo-strategic situation in the region,” the statement said.
General Wyne “expressed his concern about the negative statements emanating from the US,” it said, adding that “he stressed upon addressing the irritants in the relationship which are a result of an extremely complex situation.”
“Pakistan armed forces are committed to achieving enduring peace in the region which will only be possible through mutual trust and cooperation,” the statement said.
Separately the US embassy said Mattis visited Islamabad to meet with army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and Wyne.
“The generals had candid discussions about the current challenges in the US-Pakistan relationship.
“However, General Mattis also emphasised 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 US, Pakistan and other states in the region,” the embassy said in a statement.
Mattis held security talks with Kayani on Saturday when Pakistani officials said the meeting would help defuse the mounting tensions.
As ties suffered a blow over the US accusations, Kayani Sunday convened a special meeting of top military commanders to discuss the security situation, officials said, without giving details.
The two countries are key allies in the war against Islamist militants in Afghanistan, but their relationship is often troubled and plumbed new depths after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a covert US raid in Pakistan in May.
The latest row, with Washington accusing elements of the Pakistani state of supporting the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network it blames for the September 13 attack on its embassy in Kabul, has raised the tensions to an unprecedented level.
Kayani termed Mullen’s statement as “very unfortunate and not based on facts.”
Mullen on Thursday bluntly accused Pakistan of “exporting” violent extremism to Afghanistan through proxies and warned of possible action to protect US troops.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Saturday the US allegations would only benefit the militants, and that they “betray a confusion and policy disarray within the US establishment on the way forward in Afghanistan”.
“Blame game is self-defeating… It will only benefit the enemies of peace. Only terrorists and militants will gain from any fissures and divisions.”
The White House demanded Friday that Pakistan “break any link they have” with the Haqqanis, a Taliban faction founded by a CIA asset turned Al-Qaeda ally.
The Pakistani prime minister, who has asked Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to return home from the UN General Assembly session, is expected to call a rare all parties’ conference in coming days following recent developments, official media said.