Directive follows unusual attack on suspected Taliban hideout in Waziristan

Politics Materials 17 September 2008 14:24 (UTC +04:00)

Pakistan, Islamabad, 17 September / corr Trend A.Hakimi / Pakistani troops have been told to fire on U.S. forces if they launch another cross-border raid from Afghanistan, a military spokesman in Islamabad said Tuesday.

On Sept. 3, U.S. Special Forces attacked a suspected Taliban position on Pakistani territory, in what's believed to be the first cross-border ground assault of the Afghan counter-insurgency.

Pakistan's civilian leaders have protested the raid but said that the dispute with Washington should be resolved through diplomatic channels.

The Pakistani army's Maj.-Gen. Athar Abbas said the new orders were a response to the raid, in which U.S. helicopters ferried troops into the Pakistani territory of South Waziristan, a known stronghold of the Taliban.

"The orders are clear," Abbas said in an interview with the Associated Press. "In case it happens again in this form, that there is a very significant detection, which is very definite, no ambiguity, across the border, on ground or in the air: ... open fire."

U.S. officials and military commanders have said Islamabad isn't doing enough to prevent the Taliban and other militant groups from recruiting, training and re-supplying their forces in Pakistan's virtually lawless border lands known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Taliban forces are also believed to operate from Pakistani territory further southwest, across from Afghanistan's Kandahar province, where most of Canada's 2,500 soldiers are based.

Pakistan acknowledges the presence of al-Qaeda fugitives and Taliban forces and admits it has difficulty preventing militants from seeping through the mountainous border with Afghanistan.

However, it insists it is doing what it can and paying a heavy price, pointing to its deployment of more than 100,000 troops in its increasingly restive northwest and a wave of suicide bombings across the country.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, airplane hijackings, Pakistan declared its support for Washington and allowed a limited number of U.S. troops onto Pakistani territory during the invasion of Taliban-led Afghanistan.

The move was hugely unpopular with many Pakistanis, and analysts said anti-American feeling in the mainly Muslim country of 170 million people has grown extensively since then.

Washington is known to be uncertain of whether the new civilian president and government in Islamabad have enough authority over the country's military to remain an effective ally in the war against Islamist militant organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban. (CBCPakistani Troops Told to Fire on U.S. Forces If They Cross Afghan Border (CBC).