By Meghashyam Mali - 09/25/11 02:02 PM EDT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had tough words for Pakistan, warning the nation to stop assisting the Haqqani Network in attacks on American forces in Afghanistan and urging the U.S. to consider steps to end that threat.
“We have to put all options on the table,” Graham warned on Fox News Sunday.
Graham pointed the finger directly at Pakistan’s intelligence services for aiding the Taliban-allied group which operates from Pakistani soil and has launched deadly attacks on U.S., NATO and Afghan forces.
“The Haqqani Network operates with impunity inside Pakistan,” the senator alleged. “The ISS assists them directly and indirectly.”
By supporting the Haqqani group, Pakistan, he said, was engaged in “hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan. That must cease.”
Graham agreed that Pakistan had been an important ally in many respects in the fight against al Qaeda and said that while he wanted the relationship to continue, the U.S. could not rely on a Pakistan “that helps kill American troops.” He said the country was making a “tremendous miscalculation.”
Graham’s strong talk came after Washington’s frustrations with Pakistan boiled over this week.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen and other U.S. officials fingered the Haqqani group for the brazen attack on the American Embassy in Kabul, and another on a coalition military convoy.
Pentagon and Obama administration officials have stepped up criticism of Pakistan for its apparent reluctance to go after the terrorist group.
On Sunday Graham urged lawmakers to back legislation which he said would “reconfigure our assistance with Pakistan” and said the U.S. must “have a more transactional relationship” with the country.
The Senate panel approved its 2012 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill Wednesday. The measure includes a $100 million cut to the administration’s $1 billion request for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund.
An Appropriations committee statement said the bill “includes strengthened restrictions on assistance for Pakistan by conditioning all funds to the Government of Pakistan on cooperation against the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.”