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Pakistan Angrily Rejects Criticism by US Diplomat - 2004-04-06


Pakistan officials are angrily rejecting criticism by the US ambassador to Afghanistan about Islamabad's anti-terror efforts reports from the Pakistani capital.

US ambassador to Kabul, Zalmay Khalizad, charges that members of the ousted Taleban government and other "hostile groups" are using sanctuaries in Pakistan to create instability in Afghanistan.

In speech in Washington on Monday, he warned that Islamabad must eliminate these forces or the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition might send its troops to destroy them.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani on Tuesday called the comments "unwarranted and uncalled for." He says the US diplomat is not aware of the realities on the ground because Pakistani forces have been effectively moving against terrorists linked to the Taleban and al- Qaida terror network.

?Ambassador Khalilzad is perhaps not aware of the position of his own government,? Mr. Jilani said. ?The U.S. administration at the highest level has greatly appreciated Pakistan's effort in eliminating and rooting out the terrorist infrastructure and the al-Qaida elements from Pakistan. The other thing is that Pakistan is quite capable of taking firm action against all undesirable elements and does not require any outside assistance,? he added.

Last month, the Pakistan military conducted an intensive operation against what was called a major terrorist stronghold in a remote border region along the border with Afghanistan. Government officials say more than 60 suspected militants, including foreigners linked to al Qaida, were killed and 167 were captured. More than 50 Pakistan soldiers died in the operation. Pakistan has worked closely with the United States in the war on terrorism and has captured dozens of al Qaida members in its territory. Washington recently rewarded that cooperation by declaring Islamabad a major ally and offering more military aid.

Despite the increasingly close ties between the two governments, many Pakistanis are deeply suspicious of the United States, and opposed its efforts to oust the Taleban regime in Kabul two-years ago. Islamabad has refused to allow U.S. troops to operate in Pakistan.

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