ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's influential army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani said Thursday that his troops had been ordered to respond forcefully to any future incursion in the country's territory from Afghanistan, in the latest indication of growing tensions between the two countries.
Kayani's remarks during a speech after a military exercise with troops from Saudi Arabia, in Mangla-a military city in northern Pakistan, will likely raise further concerns for the United States in persuading the two countries to cooperate more closely.
Analysts said the slide in "Af-Pak" relations is linked to the tension surrounding Pakistan's ties with the United States after Adm. Mike Mullen, the recently retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly accused Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency of supporting Afghanistan's Haqqani terror network.
U.S. officials have recently accused the Haqqani network of staging last month's attacks on locations in Kabul including the U.S. embassy. In a follow up to the U.S. accusations, Afghan officials have accused Islamic militants and their backers in Pakistan of a role in the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former Afghan president killed in a suicide attack in Kabul.
But Kayani's comments appeared to be instigated by a recent strategic cooperation pact between Afghanistan and India, said senior western diplomats based in Islamabad who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity.
"The Pakistanis are of course very, very angry over this development. The Afghans have signed an agreement which now formalizes military and security cooperation between Afghanistan and India," one diplomat said. "This is of course unacceptable to Pakistan."
Pakistan has long blamed archrival India for expanding its intelligence operations on Afghan soil with a view to destabilizing areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border.
Others warned there was a danger that Pakistan will become more stubborn in responding to U.S. calls for facilitating a peace process in Afghanistan.
"In Pakistan, there is a very strong feeling that the country is being openly humiliated and pushed by the United States. It now becomes very difficult for the country to go out on a limb and support the United States and the Afghan government to push for peace," said a second western diplomat who also spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity.
Both diplomats said that the silver lining is that Kayani and other senior Pakistani generals are still willing to negotiate with the U.S. to try to resolve their disagreements.
"This is a country and an army with a long history of ties to the U.S.," the first diplomat said. "Sure, there is a hugely monumental challenge right now surrounding the U.S.-Pak relationship, but the relationship hasn't broken down at all."