Pakistan Denounces ABC News Report on Backing Iran Radicals

The Pakistani government had sharp words Wednesday for an ABC News report detailing U.S. and Pakistani support for an Iranian tribal militant group working to destabilize its country's government.

Calling the report "tendentious" and an "absurd and sinister insinuation," Pakistan's Foreign Office said the Pakistani government "will never allow its territory for carrying out acts of terrorism and violence against any country."

"We condemn any attempt to create misgivings between the two brotherly countries," the statement read.


The story, citing Pakistani and U.S. intelligence sources, said the Iranian guerrilla group known as "Jundullah" operates out of the Baluchistan province of Pakistan with the advice and encouragement of American officials and has taken responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of several Iranian officials. The report appeared on ABC News' The Blotter, "World News" and "Nightline" earlier this week.

For its part, the Iranian government appeared to embrace ABC News' reporting that the United States was backing anti-government forces in its country.  "There is no doubt in our minds that the United States spares no effort to put pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Gholamali Haddadadel, speaker of the Iranian parliament, on Thursday, in response to the story.

But he too played down the notion of any involvement by its neighbor, Pakistan, in the U.S. effort. "We don't have any reason to believe that the military establishment in Pakistan is also supporting such militants groups," Haddadadel said via an interpreter, according to Reuters.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the Pakistani military also disputed the ABC News report in an interview with ABC News.  "It is totally untrue to say our intelligence agencies have anything to do with Jundullah," said General Wahid Arshad, Pakistan's chief military spokesman. "We know of the man (Jundullah leader Abd el Malik Regi) quoted in your story, and he is nothing more than a criminal and a drug dealer."

But according to ABC News consultant Alexis Debat, who just returned from the region, Pakistani intelligence recently facilitated the payment of $1.3 million by Iran to Jundullah to obtain the release of kidnapped Iranian border guards,  "They (the Iranians) are escorted by Pakistani intelligence into Pakistan to meet with Jundullah officials and probably Regi himself to make the exchange to give the money and get the hostages back. So Pakistani intelligence in many ways is involved in that."

ABC News stands by its reporting on this story.

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