Pakistan warns US against border incursions

September 11th, 2008 - 1:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Sep 11 (IANS) Pakistan has rejected US claims that the rules of engagement gave the coalition forces in Afghanistan the right to enter its territory, saying the nation’s sovereignty will be defended at all costs.”The rules of engagement with the coalition forces are well defined and within that the right to conduct operations against the militants inside own territory is solely the responsibility of the respective armed forces,” Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said in a statement here Wednesday.

“There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border,” he added.

The statement “dispelled a perception that some of the air strikes carried out inside Pakistan by drones and warplanes of the US-led coalition had been authorised by Islamabad”, Dawn said Thursday.

Kayani’s statement comes on the heels of US President George Bush’s description of the Afghan-Pakistan border area as a frontline in the war on terror and against the backdrop of a series of incursions by NATO forces in which missiles were fired from unmanned drones in the tribal areas and at least one incident in which ground troops attacked the Angoor Adda area of South Waziristan.

A large number of civilians have been killed in these raids.

Quoting observers here, Dawn said Kayani’s statement was “a strong rebuttal of the oft-repeated assertions by the western media and political and military figures that US and NATO forces in Afghanistan had a ‘right’ to take their war on terror into Pakistan”.

Pakistan has been asserting that any credible information about terrorists in Pakistan should be provided to it and that its forces were fully capable of acting on this.

Although this is not the first time NATO forces have attacked inside Pakistan, the increase in the frequency of attacks in days before last week’s presidential election here was seen by many as a major shift in the US policy towards Pakistan.

Referring to his meeting with senior US officers on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on Aug 27, Kayani said they had been informed about the complexity of the issue, which required an in-depth understanding and patience for evolving a comprehensive solution.

He said Pakistan’s viewpoint was elaborated in detail and it was stressed that in such situations the military action alone could not solve the problem. Political reconciliatory efforts were required along with military action to win hearts and minds of the people.

“There are no quick fixes in this war. Falling for short-term gains while ignoring our long-term interests is not the right way forward. To succeed, the coalition forces will be required to display strategic patience and help the other side the way they want it rather than adopting a unilateral approach which may be counter productive,” Kayani said in his statement.

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