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The politically divided and insurgency-hit Pakistan is showing rare unity at a time when top U. S. military leaders are issuing threatening statements of unilateral military action in Pakistan's tribal region against the armed militant groups, blamed by the U.S. defense officials for the cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
Pakistani leaders have complained that the senior U.S. officials have unleashed verbal attacks on its intelligence agencies that they supported Taliban-linked groups in recent attacks on the U.S. embassy and a military base in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta and senior top military officials claimed that Pakistan's spy agency is using the Taliban-linked Haqqani-network to export "terrorism" into Afghanistan and that Pakistani agency the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI provided logistic support to the Afghan militants for the Sept. 13 attack in the heart of Kabul on U.S. embassy and the Sept. 11 truck bomb attack on the U.S. base in Maidan Wardak province.
Pakistan angrily rejected U.S. claims as unfortunate and also dismissed the threats of unilateral action as contrary to the spirit of bilateral cooperation in the war on terror.
The U.S. leaders insist that the Haqqani network is operating from Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region and is using the lawless region as a launching pad for cross border attacks into Afghanistan. The U.S. routinely uses unmanned aircraft to target the hideouts of the suspected militants in Waziristan region, bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistan's chief army spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, has admitted contacts with Haqqani network to convince its fighters for joining the Afghan peace process but denied any support to the group for attacks on the U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Pakistani leaders said that the CIA had created the Haqqanis and had been once the U.S. "blue eyed boys".
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said this week that several countries have contacts with Haqqanis and rejected as unfair the U. S. policy to single out Pakistan. As there is no let up in the U.S. pressure on Pakistan and its leaders are issuing threats of strikes, Pakistanis have shown unity to meet any challenge. The prime minister has called an All Parties Conference (APC) to get support for all political and religious parties at the critical juncture of Pakistan's history.
Nearly 60 political leaders, including the main opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, will attend the conference. Top military leaders and the ISI chief will brief the leaders and will respond to their questions about what measures have been taken to defend the country.
Tribesmen in Waziristan and other regions have also declared support to the Pakistani government and elders have vowed armed resistance if the United States launched any attack, a tribal elder who attended a meeting in Miranshah, center of North Waziristan, this week said. Two nationalist groups in southwestern Balochiastan province have refused to attend the APC. They cited political differences over the government policies in Balochistan for decision to stay away from the APC but said they would strongly oppose any U.S. military intervention.
It is the third time in three years that the government has called APC to adopt a united stand to what majority believes the U. S. aggressive posture towards its close ally, which has lost nearly 30,000 civilians and about 5,000 security personnel in bomb blasts, suicide attacks and military operations since late 2001.
An APC was convened in 2009 when the security forces planned a major offensive against the Taliban militants in the northwestern Swat valley, who had occupied most parts of the valley and there had been fear of Taliban advancing on Islamabad. Earlier an APC was called to adopt a joint stand after the 2008 Mumbai attacks blamed on Pakistan-based militant groups. The Thursday's APC was convened as Pakistani political and military leaders have realized gravity of the situation.
Pakistanis are annoyed at the U.S. allegations against its military and security organizations, who had been the main target of the militant groups.