ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan's military Wednesday rejected a "malicious" report that a top CIA official visiting this month confronted Islamabad over ties between the country's intelligence service and militants.
The New York Times said agency deputy director Stephen Kappes highlighted alleged ties between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and those responsible for the surge of violence across the border in Afghanistan.
"We reject this report. This is unfounded, baseless and malicious," chief Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.
"I would like to emphasise here that ISI is a premier intelligence agency which has caught or apprehended maximum Al-Qaeda operatives including those who were linked with criminals and responsible for attacking the US mainland on September 11, 2001," Abbas said.
Citing anonymous defense and intelligence sources, the Times said the meeting focused on supposed intelligence links with Taliban commander Jalauddin Haqqani, who is based in Pakistan's tribal areas.
It said that earlier this year the US military pressed for Pakistani troops to hit the Haqqani network.
"It was a very pointed message saying, 'Look, we know there's a connection, not just with Haqqani but also with the other bad guys and ISI, and we think you could do more and we want you to do more about it," a senior US official told the Times.
The newspaper said the meeting could be a sign that the relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and the ISI "may be deteriorating."
The report comes after Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met with US President George W. Bush in Washington and urged him not to act "unilaterally" against militants in Pakistan's lawless tribal zones.
Gilani insisted Monday that Pakistan was committed to fighting extremists.
Pakistan's fledgling government caused concern in Washington by launching talks with militants soon after beating allies of US-backed President Pervez Musharraf in elections in February.
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