ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Rejecting the U.S. intelligence chief's accusations that Pakistan is harboring Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, Islamabad said Friday it remains committed to fighting international terrorism and extremism.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte's claim that Pakistan represents a major source of Islamic extremism and a refuge for top terror leaders is "incorrect."
"In breaking the back of Al Qaeda, Pakistan has done more than any other country in the world," the statement said.
Negroponte said in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that "eliminating the safe haven that the Taliban and other extremists have found in Pakistan's tribal areas is not sufficient to end the insurgency in Afghanistan, but it is necessary."
NATO and the Afghan government say Taliban and Al Qaeda guerrillas are launching attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan. Violence rose sharply in Afghanistan in 2006, with militants killing about 4,000 people in what was the deadliest year since the U.S.-led coalition swept the Taliban from power in 2001.
U.S. officials have said they believe Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden and other top terror commanders are taking refuge in the region, likely on the Pakistani side of the border. Pakistan has repeatedly rejected such claims.
"As part of international coalition against terrorism, our efforts are also helping the international community to counter this grave danger," the Pakistani statement said. "When Mr. Negroponte mentions the capture and killing of hundreds of Al Qaeda members since 9/11, he should acknowledge the efforts of the country that made this possible."
Pakistan became a U.S. ally in the war against terrorism after it severed support for the Taliban militia in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.