- Associated Press - Sunday, September 25, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan's army chief convened a special meeting of senior commanders Sunday following U.S. allegations that the military’s spy agency helped militants attack American targets in Afghanistan, the army said.

The government also summoned home the country’s foreign minister early from a trip to the United States to attend a meeting of all major political parties to discuss the American allegations of support for the militant Haqqani network.

Senior Pakistani officials have lashed out against the allegations, accusing the United States of trying to make Pakistan a scapegoat for its troubled war in Afghanistan. The public confrontation has plunged the already troubled U.S.-Pakistan alliance to new lows.

Pakistan’s leaders have shown no indication they plan to act on renewed American demands to attack the Haqqani network in its main base in Pakistan, even at the risk of further conflict with Washington, which has given the country billions in aid.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Sunday that the U.S. should consider military action to defend U.S. troops if Pakistan’s spy agency continues supporting militants who are attacking American forces.

Unilateral U.S. raids into Pakistan could have explosive implications in a country where anti-American sentiment is widespread.

Pakistanis were outraged by the covert U.S. commando raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a garrison town not far from Islamabad in May. The U.S. did not tell the Pakistani government about the operation beforehand for fear bin Laden would be tipped off.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik warned the U.S. on Sunday against sending troops into Pakistan.

“Any aggression will not be tolerated,” Mr. Malik told reporters in Islamabad. “The nation is standing united behind the armed forces, which is the front line of Pakistan’s defense.”

Adm. Mike Mullen, who, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the top U.S. military officer, last week accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency of supporting Haqqani insurgents in planning and executing a 22-hour assault on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 13 as well as a truck bomb that wounded 77 American soldiers days earlier.

Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, widely considered the most powerful man in Pakistan, has dismissed the allegations, saying they were baseless and part of a public “blame game” detrimental to peace in Afghanistan.

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a Pakistan army spokesman, said Gen. Kayani presided over Sunday’s commanders meeting, but he would not provide detail on the discussions.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s office issued a statement saying Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was summoned back to attend a meeting of all major political parties on “threats emanating from outside the country.”

Pakistan claimed to have severed its ties with Afghan militants after the 9/11 attacks and supported America’s campaign in Afghanistan, but U.S. officials long have suspected it maintained links. The comments by Adm. Mullen were the most serious yet accusing Pakistan of militant ties, although he didn’t cite any specific evidence.

Despite the seriousness of the U.S. claims, which appear to accuse Pakistan of state-sponsored terrorism, Adm. Mullen and other U.S. officials have said Washington needs to keep engaging with Islamabad, a reflection of its limited options in dealing with the country.

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