Pakistan demands immediate end to US incursions
Pakistan on Tuesday demanded an immediate end
to incursions by US forces into its territory as the country's jets and
helicopter gunships pounded insurgent positions in the tribal areas along the
Afghan border, killing 10 rebels and two civilians, dpa reported, referring to Associated Press.
"The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country would be safeguarded at all costs," Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said in a meeting with British Justice Secretary Jack Straw in Islamabad.
The statement came one day after Pakistani officials said US forces tried to cross into Pakistan's tribal district of South Waziristan but were forced to turn back to Afghanistan after the country's security forces and armed tribesmen fired warning shots.
It was the latest military incursion the United States was accused of as Washington expressed concerns over Pakistan's inability to control Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters who attack international troops in Afghanistan from its lawless tribal region.
The charges have strained Washington-Islamabad relations with Pakistan briefly blocking NATO supplies through its land to Afghanistan earlier this month.
Straw agreed with Gilani that foreign incursions into Pakistan's territory would be "counterproductive" but said he hoped the country would continue providing passage to NATO supplies, according to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.
Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari, held talks in London Tuesday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, focussing on terrorism and the recent tension between Washington and Islamabad over apparent unilateral US cross-border operations.
Informed sources said Zardari, who is on a private visit to Britain, was likely to have sought Brown's help to persuade the US government to cease such attacks from Afghanistan.
Zardari was also expected to have talks with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, officials said.
Some media reports citing the Pakistan Army's chief spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said Tuesday that the country's troops had orders to fire on US forces if they cross Pakistan's borders.
"Out of context, completely out of context," he said when questioned by Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
He said he had only stressed Pakistan's "right" to defend its territory and had not spoken of a "decision" to act against US forces.
"When you defend your territory, it also includes that if somebody violates your borders, you take action," he said.
Earlier, Gilani insisted the Pakistan Armed Forces were fully capable of handling any situation within their territory, where security forces are battling against rebels.
On Tuesday, thousands of troops backed by tanks and artillery pushed into the district of Bajaur, particularly in the Rashakai, Loi Sam and Tang Khata strongholds of Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked fighters from Central Asia.
"At least 10 militants and two civilians were killed in the fresh aerial attacks on militant targets, and 18 people, including five civilians, were wounded in the strikes, which are to continue through the day," a local security official said.
Fighting in the Bajaur district broke out in early August when dozens of rebels attacked a checkpoint on a strategic hilltop along a route previously used by militants to cross into Afghanistan and attack international forces.
Hundreds of people have reportedly died and tens of thousands more displaced by the clashes. Dozens of troops have also died in the conflict.