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Sen. Graham: ‘All options on the table’ for Pakistan

- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday said the United States must have "all options on the table" to deal with growing concerns about official Pakistani support of terrorism.

The South Carolina Republican, when asked on "Fox News Sunday" whether that included the possibility of military action against Pakistan, said, "We need to put Pakistan on notice."

The comments come in the wake of charges by U.S. military officials that Pakistan's intelligence community played a role in the recent terror assault on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"We're going to have to put all options on the table, including defending our troops," said Mr. Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee. "The sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan that must cease."

He said there would be strong bipartisan support in Congress if the U.S. needs to "elevate its response."

"It is now a time of choosing. I hope they choose wisely, because [Defense Secretary Leon E.] Panetta and people like myself cannot in good conscious go to military funerals and say I am sorry your son or daughter was killed in Afghanistan by assistance given to terrorists in Pakistan by the Pakistan government. That has to come to an end," Mr. Graham said.

On Thursday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan's intelligence agency supported Haqqani Network insurgents in planning and executing a 22-hour assault on the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan on Sept. 13, as well as a truck bomb that wounded 77 American soldiers days earlier.

In Pakistan, senior military commanders met Sunday to discuss the latest deterioration in the country's relationship with the United States.

Pakistani officials have lashed out against the allegations, accusing the U.S. 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.

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."

• This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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