Pakistan protests air, territorial violations by NATO

Pak conveyed to the US its "profound concern" over increasing drone attacks and violation of the country`s airspace by NATO and ISAF aircraft, saying its partners in the war on terror should respect its territorial sovereignty.

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2010, 20:57 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday conveyed to
the US its "profound concern" over increasing drone attacks
and violation of the country`s airspace by NATO and ISAF
aircraft, saying its partners in the war on terror should
respect its territorial sovereignty.

The concerns were conveyed by President Asif Ali
Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to visiting CIA
chief Leon Panetta.

Panetta, who also met Inter-Services Intelligence
agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, is in the country
amidst growing concerns about a global terror plot traced back
to Pakistan.

Panetta conveyed the readiness of the US to further
strengthen cooperation and coordination between the two sides
in intelligence-sharing.

He conceded that the UN had only given the mandate to
NATO and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to act
within Afghan territory and assured Gilani that the US
government would look into the intrusions into Pakistani
territory.

NATO and ISAF helicopters have carried out at least
four air strikes on Pakistani territory this week. The latest
attack today killed three Pakistani soldiers.

Gilani underscored the importance of
intelligence-sharing and cooperation between Pakistan and the
US, and said American and international forces in Afghanistan
should share credible and actionable information with
Pakistan`s troops to enable them to take action against
possible threats in the border areas.

Pakistan is a front-line ally in the war against
terror and expects its partners to respect its territorial
sovereignty, Gilani said.

Zardari said Pakistan "strongly disapproves any
incident of violation of its sovereignty."

Any violation of internationally agreed principles is
counter-productive and unacceptable, he told Panetta.

Islamabad has strongly protested against the air
strikes, saying they are unacceptable. Gilani expressed regret over a New York Times report
about the Pakistan Army`s unhappiness over the performance of
the civilian government and assertions made about Pakistan in
journalist Bob Woodword`s book "Obama`s Wars".

He "stressed the need of positive messaging from the
US about Pakistan rather than planted negative comments which
create mis perceptions and mistrust."

The premier also conveyed the disappointment of the
people and government of Pakistan over the "excessive and
unfair" sentence given to Pakistani terror suspect Afia
Siddiqui by a US court last week.

He rued the fact that his government`s efforts to
persuade the US for her repatriation were ignored.

The sentencing had fuelled anti-American sentiments
in Pakistan, Gilani contended.

Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years in prison or
attacking American security personnel in Afghanistan.

Gilani told the CIA chief that Pakistan remained
committed to the war on terror despite the catastrophic floods
in the country and the "precarious economic situation."

Hr noted statements from the West about a possible
terrorist attack from Pakistan’s tribal region and reaffirmed
his government`s commitment to foil any possible plot if it is
provided credible information.

During their meeting, President Zardari and Panetta
discussed cooperation in the fight against militants and the
security situation in the region.

Zardari said the fight against militancy remains the
highest priority and the government is determined to pursue
this struggle till its logical end.

Zardari said there is a need to enhance trust,
cooperation and coordination at the strategic, policy and
operational planes. Capacity enhancement of Pakistan`s
security apparatus is very crucial, he added.

PTI