"In Haqqani is the most virulent insurgent group, terrorist group in Pakistan and a great supporter of al Qaeda.
We're losing Afghan civilians, Afghan soldiers, and we're losing American soldiers because of the Haqqani network," Mullen, the just retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN in an interview.
Mullen said the ISI-Haqqani connection was not a new phenomenon and he did not expect it to end overnight, but a "concerted effort" was needed to be made towards finishing off these links.
"The link between the Pakistan military and specifically the ISI, their intelligence agency, is very well-known. And I have argued for the need to sever this link. That also has to do with getting control of that safe haven. That''s not a new discussion. It''s not a new issue. It's long lasting," Mullen said when asked why he went public only now against the ISI and its links with the Haqqani network.
"But the intensity of the recent events and the strategic support that the ISI and the Pakistani military both give to the Haqqani network directly and indirectly, is what I was focused on," Mullen said in defence of his remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month where he said that ISI used the Haqqani network as a veritable arm.
He said as a military leader and as somebody who feels responsible for 2.2 million men and women in uniform, he could not "tolerate anymore" the actions of the Haqqani network "to literally kill my people".