Mullen Talks Tougher in Pakistan

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Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, talks with Pakistani Gen. Khalid Shameem Wynne, chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Wednesday / DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley

Usually when Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks, it’s reported as “commenting” or “remarks.” But Wednesday he let the Pakistani military and its Inter-Services Intelligence unit know that their cozy relationship with the Haqqani terrorist network threatens relations between the two countries. The local English-language paper labeled his words a “diatribe” — in the headline.

“It is fairly well known that ISI had a relationship with the Haqqani network and addressing the Haqqani network from my perspective is critical to the solution set in Afghanistan,” Mullen told the Dawn newspaper. “That’s at the core that I think is the most difficult part of the relationship.” The Haqqani network has been active in Afghanistan — killing U.S. and allied troops — and then returning to safe havens inside Pakistan for years.

Before meeting with Pakistani officials, Mullen told reporters he had no choice but to bring up the touchy topic. “I have a sacred responsibility to do all I can to save American lives,” he said. “The Haqqani network very specifically supports the Taliban, who move into Afghanistan to kill Americans. I can’t accept that. I’ll do everything I possibly can to prevent that, specifically.”

While Pakistanis reacted with dismay at Mullen’s words, not everyone was impressed. Bill Roggio, a long-time Af-Pak war-watcher, writes on The Long War Journal blog:

Pakistani officials of course denied supporting the Haqqani Network, and claim they haven’t taken on the Haqqani Network due to the focus on the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. This of course is untrue, and Admiral Mullen of course knows that. Despite his “sacred obligation” to stop US soldiers dying at the hands of Pakistan-backed terror groups, Admiral Mullen cannot bring himself to call Pakistan to account for its actions. And as a result, more US soldiers will die as the dysfunctional “alliance” between the two nations is nursed along.