‘Pakistan not informed about latest US air strike’September 18th, 2008 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, Sep 18 (DPA) Pakistan Thursday denied that the US forewarned it of the overnight missile strike in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region that was carried out hours after US assurances of enhanced coordination on critical security issues.”No Sir! We were not informed,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told journalists in Islamabad a day after the US aerial attack killed six suspected Taliban militants in Baghar Cheena village of South Waziristan tribal district.
Wednesday’s strike came shortly after Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, met Pakistani leadership during his unannounced visit and reaffirmed “the US commitment to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty”.
“That means there is some sort of an institutional disconnect on their side and, if so, they have to sort it out,” Qureshi said.
Media reports cited Pentagon officials as saying that Pakistani authorities were informed that US drones were deployed to destroy an ammunition dump in South Waziristan. One Al Qaeda militant and three Taliban fighters were allegedly killed in the raid.
Qureshi stressed that incursions into the tribal territory “will not improve the situation, but rather be unproductive” in the long struggle to eliminate the menace of terrorism and extremism.
Relations between the two key allies in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan have been strained by a upsurge in US attacks inside Pakistan’s tribal areas which are considered a hotbed of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
After assessments by top US military officers that the Americans were not winning the war against the Taliban, the US is seemingly revising its security strategy in Afghanistan and along the frontier.
The New York Times earlier reported that President George W. Bush had secretly given the go-ahead to conduct ground attacks without consulting Pakistan.
Islamabad concedes that members of the Al Qaeda terrorist organisation have found sanctuaries in the treacherous mountain region but reiterates its resolve to take them out, saying the fight against terror was “Pakistan’s own war”.
However, it maintains that under the agreed rules of engagement, no foreign troops are permitted to operate inside Pakistan. “If there is an action required in our territory it will be carried out by our forces,” Qureshi said.