ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan on Tuesday rejected as "baseless" a claim from the Afghan government that its powerful spy agency and armed forces are behind the raging Taliban-led insurgency.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are both U.S. allies in the war on terror, but relations between them have been strained in recent years due to accusations from Kabul that Islamabad is not doing enough to stop militants from entering Afghanistan to target the Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces.
The situation took a new turn Monday when Afghan government called Pakistan's army and its spy agency "the world's biggest producers of terrorism and extremism" and suspended bilateral meetings.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry responded Tuesday by accusing Kabul of creating an "artificial crisis" to satisfy "short term political expediencies" and urged it to rethink. It said "such baseless accusations" served no purpose and called for the two sides to work together to defeat terrorism.
The Pakistani government has said on several occasions that they gain nothing from a destabilized Afghanistan.
But Afghan ministers said that ‘for the sake of national sovereignty’ they will not attend bi-lateral or regional security meetings with Pakistan and the U.S. ‘until a positive spirit of dialogue and understanding for mutual trust is restored.’
The diplomatic spat comes amid a spike in militant violence on both sides of the porous frontier that separates Pakistan and Afghanistan. The border region is considered a refuge for Taliban and al-Qaida leaders and fighters.
Pakistan's new government has promised to do whatever it can to combat terrorism and secure the border with Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, on Monday Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani acknowledged the presence of foreign rebel fighters in the country's tribal areas, drawing criticism from an umbrella organization of militants.
"We will consider Prime Minister Gilani our enemy if the NATO or Pakistani security forces attack us after his baseless claim," Maulvi Umar, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban, told The Associated Press by phone.
Both countries are dealing with increasing militant violence. Pakistan has lost over 1,000 forces battling Al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds in the rugged tribal area along its border with Afghanistan.
FOX News' Scott Heilder and the Associated Press contributed to this report.