Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday that Pakistan's spy agency was directly involved in supporting the insurgents who carried out the deadly attack on the American Embassy last week in Kabul, which killed seven people and injured 19 others.
This has been the most serious charge leveled by the United States against Pakistan to date.
Last May, following the killing of Osama Bin Laden, in a town called Abbottabad in northwest Pakistan, less than 40 miles from the capital of Islamabad, suspicions were raised on whether Pakistani officials were involved in shielding the al-Qaida leader.
The White House refrained from accusing its precarious ally outright, due to lack of evidence that Islamabad had prior knowledge of bin Laden living in the country.
At Thursday's news conference, however, Mullen pointedly linked the spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with an assault on the United States that served to undermine U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
Mullen also speculated that Pakistan's intelligence agency supports the Haqqani network, an independent insurgent group originating in Afghanistan with close ties to the Taliban, not simply to extend Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, as the U.S. had always believed, but to increase high profile attacks in the region against the United States.
Mullen said, "With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack," referring to a September 10 attack that struck a NATO outpost in eastern Afghanistan. Five Afghans were killed in that attack, and 96 injured, with most of that number including U.S. soldiers.
"We also have credible evidence that they were behind the June 28 attack against the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, and a host of other smaller but effective operations. In short, the Haqqani network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency," said Mullen.
American military officials refused to discuss what steps they were prepared to take, although Admiral Mullen's statement clearly indicated that taking on the Haqqanis had become an urgent priority.
Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister, rejected accusations by the United States of ISI involvement in the attacks in Afghanistan. "If you say that it is ISI involved in that attack, I categorically deny it," he said in an interview with Reuters.
"We have no such policy to attack, or aid attack through Pakistani forces, or through any Pakistani assistance," he added.