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For years, U.S. officials have warned of the links between Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI, and terrorist groups attacking American forces across the border in Afghanistan. Today, during a hearing on Capitol Hill, the top U.S. military officers said there's proof.
NPR's Rachel Martin has the story.
RACHEL MARTIN: Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, was blunt. The Haqqani network, he said, supported by Pakistan, was responsible for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last week, along with other significant attacks.
MICHAEL MULLEN, Host:
We also have credible intelligence that they were behind the June 28th attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller, but effective operations.
MARTIN: This was Mullen's last appearance before Congress before retiring at the end of this month. The chairman is known for taking a diplomatic approach with Pakistan, but after last week's attack on the U.S. Embassy, Pakistan may have crossed a line, so Mullen issued an unusually stern warning.
MULLEN: In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership, but Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence.
MARTIN: Mullen has been the Obama administration's key link between the U.S. and Pakistan, visiting that country dozens of times for personal meetings with the head of Pakistan's military.
MULLEN: I've done this because I believe that a flawed and difficult relationship is better than no relationship at all. Some may argue I've wasted my time, that Pakistan is no closer to us than before and may now have drifted even further away. I disagree.
MARTIN: Mullen says cooperation with Pakistan has been getting better, especially the fight against al-Qaida. Earlier this month, Pakistan arrested the group's operations chief, but both Mullen and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Pakistan is still harboring other terrorist groups, like the Haqqanis.
LEON PANETTA: We cannot tolerate their having these kinds of safe havens. We cannot tolerate having terrorists coming across the border attacking our forces, killing our soldiers and then escaping back into that safe haven. That is not tolerable.
MARTIN: Still, some senators are losing patience after 10 years of war. Here's Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
JOE MANCHIN: We should get out as quickly as we can. Go and fight terrorism anywhere and everywhere it may take us to keep it from the shores of America, but I do not believe that we can win and change the Afghans or the Pakistanis.
PANETTA: I understand there's been waste. I understand, you know, that mistakes have been made.
MARTIN: Secretary Panetta responded.
PANETTA: But I also believe that this is a point where the United States has got to stick with it and not just walk away, largely because the last thing we should do is to say to those families who have lost loved ones that somehow all of this was in vain.
MARTIN: At the same time, Panetta said the U.S. has to find a way to get Pakistan in line, to stop reaching out to the U.S. with one hand, propping up terrorist groups with the other. Here's Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: Would you agree with me, if something doesn't change in Pakistan substantially, that we're on a collision course with Pakistan?
PANETTA: It has to change. We can't continue the situation that's there now.
MARTIN: Panetta said he's made it clear to Pakistan that the U.S. will do everything in its power to protect American forces from attacks that originate from Pakistan. He refused to say exactly what that could entail.
Rachel Martin, NPR News, Washington.
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