- Pakistan has rejected US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's recent allegations regarding militants as "safe havens" in its territory, a move that could intensify tensions between the two troubled allies.
"We feel that the Secretary of Defense is oversimplifying some of the very complex issues we are all dealing with in our efforts against extremism and terrorism," Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
"We strongly believe that such statements are misplaced and unhelpful in bringing about peace and stability in the region," the statement added.
On Thursday, Panetta said stabilization efforts in Afghanistan would be difficult as long as militants have safe havens in Pakistan.
"It is very important for Pakistan to take steps. It is an increasing concern, the issue of safe haven, and we are reaching the limits of our patience," Panetta said.
The foreign ministry added that Islamabad will "follow its own timeline" and strategy on operations against militants and "will not allow its territory to be used against any country, nor will it allow any safe havens on its territory."
The Pakistan-US relations experienced particularly serious strains in 2011 after a CIA contractor killed two Pakistanis and a US team infiltrated the Pakistani territory under the pretext of killing al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
This was topped by US air strikes in November which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two army outposts on the Afghan border.
The last incident prompted Islamabad to shut down supply routes to US-led foreign military forces in Afghanistan.