The U.S. and Pakistani governments moved swiftly Monday to say that a trove of leaked U.S. military documents paints a dated and incomplete portrait of Pakistan as an untrustworthy partner against militants who use the country as a safe zone.
Both countries said the secret documents don't reflect Pakistan's recent cooperation against militant networks on its side of the border with Afghanistan.
The Obama administration also acknowledged that despite a $7.5 billion aid package, U.S. authorities aren't fully satisfied with Pakistan's response.
"Our criticism has been relayed both publicly and privately," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "We will continue to do so in order to move this relationship forward."
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The documents released Sunday by WikiLeaks, a self-described online whistle-blower, are new grist for criticism that Pakistan lacks resolve against militant groups that were sometimes considered useful to Pakistan in the decades-old competition with India.
"Some of these documents reinforce a long-standing concern of mine about the supporting role of some Pakistani officials in the Afghan insurgency," Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Monday. Levin said he urged a more forceful response during a visit to Pakistan this month.
Pakistan's foreign ministry on Monday called the WikiLeaks documents "misplaced, skewed and contrary to the factual position on the ground."
The critical tone of many of the intelligence reports is likely to rankle Pakistani public opinion.
Revelation of the depth of mistrust and suspicion on the American side could also provoke resentment and recriminations on the Pakistani side, said Juan Zarate, a top White House counterterrorism official under former President George W. Bush.
"At a critical time when you need to build up trust, this throws a wrench in that effort," Zarate said.
Even so, the material is unlikely to change the current U.S. view that Pakistan is slowly shedding the impulse to play a double game in the U.S. struggle against the Taliban. The bulk of the material covers the period before Pakistan began large-scale military operations against some internal militant groups.
The documents include accusations that a former top Pakistani intelligence figure helped supply Taliban militants. There are also mundane but telling accounts of testy exchanges in which U.S. military officers tried to avoid disclosing operational details to Pakistani counterparts for fear the information would be turned against them.
"Of course we were vague and changed the subject," one American officer wrote following a 2007 meeting at which a Pakistani lieutenant colonel sought details about U.S. force placements.
The U.S. and Pakistani officers shared snacks and tea and took several group photos, the U.S. report said, but the officer's overall assessment of the session was bleak.
The Pakistani military is "not an effective disruption force," the officer wrote. "The leadership sounded to be on the right path, but it was not echoed in the actions of the unit."
The release comes as the United States is trying to increase pressure on Pakistan to move against specific militant networks or to tacitly allow the U.S. to expand paramilitary hunt-and-kill operations on Pakistani soil. Pakistan allows secret U.S. drone strikes but denies it publicly.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both visited Pakistan in the days before the documents were released.
Both faced skeptical questions about U.S. intentions, even as they praised Pakistan's efforts over the past year and a half to aggressively fight militant groups in the Swat Valley and in South Waziristan.
The United States wants Pakistan to take that fight more forcefully to North Waziristan, home of the Haqqani network, which is sometimes described by U.S. officials as the most potent threat to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The documents cover a period during which Pakistan's government was upended, partly because of unresolved differences over whether to ally Pakistani counterterror efforts with those of the United States.
The civilian-led government now in place is widely considered weak, but it has pledged to continue and expand the military campaign against some of the militant groups that once enjoyed haven or government support.