The war of words between the U.S. and Pakistan intensified on Friday with Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani saying “negative messaging'' from Washington was counterproductive and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Ashfaq Parvez Kayani telling his American counterparts that it was unfair to single out Islamabad for contacts with the Haqqani network.

Describing U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen's allegations regarding Pakistan's institutional links with terrorists as baseless, Gen. Kayani said the admiral “knows fully well which all countries are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan is neither fair nor productive. This is especially disturbing in view of a rather constructive meeting with Admiral Mullen in Spain.''

Categorically denying the accusations of indulging in a “proxy war'' and ISI support to the network, the COAS said “the blame game in public statements should give way to a constructive and meaningful engagement for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, an objective to which Pakistan is fully committed''.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Gilani tried to tone down a sharper response given by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Admiral Mullen's remarks before the Senate Arms Services Committee on Afghanistan and Iraq. she said in New York the U.S. could lose a key ally if it kept accusing Pakistan of exporting terror. If the U.S. chooses to alienate Pakistan and its people, Washington would be doing so at its own risk, she added.

Admiral Mullen had said: “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. In supporting these groups, the government of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani Army, continues to jeopardize Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected and prosperous nation with genuine regional and international influence.''

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