White House spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday reacted cautiously to the blunt criticism made by the U.S. top military officer against Pakistan, declining to endorse his remarks describing a militant group as a virtual arm of the Pakistani intelligence service.
"Well, it's not language that I would use," Carney told reporters when he was asked if the administration believed that the Haqqani network which was blamed for the recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan was "a veritable arm" of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency.
Chairman of U.S. Joint Chief of Staff Mike Mullen last week publicly accused Pakistan of backing the Haqqani network and exporting violence to Afghanistan. Mullen's words prompted furious response from Pakistan who has been an important player on the U.S. war in Afghanistan, sending the already damaged U.S.-Pakistani relations to a new low. But some have started to question if Mullen's charges were overstated.
Carney admitted that the U.S. cooperation with Pakistan has been "extremely important" and that Pakistan has been very helpful to the U.S. fight against al-Qaida in particular.
But he insisted that links between the Pakistani military and the Haqqani network exist, urging Pakistan to take actions to eliminate Haqqani network's safe havens within the country.
U.S.-Pakistani relations has been deteriorating since a secret U.S. commando mission killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan without the permission from Islamabad in May.
The U.S. said that it will cut military aid to Pakistan, while shifting more focus on the civilian side.