US-NATO apologies over air raids victory for Pak: Malik

Pak has declared a diplomatic victory after the US and NATO apologies over the helicopter strikes.

Islamabad: The Pakistan government has declared a diplomatic and political victory in the National Assembly, after receiving apologies from the United States and NATO over the helicopter strikes in Pakistani territory.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik stated that while Pakistan’s armed forces were fully capable of using “all options” to defend the country’s borders, “we have been given assurances it will not happen again”, the Dawn reported.

“The way this was conveyed and the way the apology came, this is a victory of this house and a victory of our country,” he said, after talking of Pakistan’s strong condemnation of the incident, and its interactions with US authorities at the diplomatic and political levels as well as contacts between the Pakistani and ISAF military authorities in this regard.

The minister also declared that Pakistan was ready to give every assistance to Afghanistan and ISAF in the so-called war on terror, which “needs to be a more coordinated effort”, but added, “But we will not tolerate any violation of our sovereignty.”

Malik noted that NATO’s mandate was to operate in Afghanistan, and “they cannot target Pakistan”. He, however, did not respond to criticism during a debate on frequent strikes into FATA by US drones aimed to target suspected Al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts.

Earlier, in a statement issued on Wednesday, US ambassador in Pakistan Anne W Patterson had extended an “apology to Pakistan on behalf of the American people for the terrible accident” of Sept 30, when missiles fired from a NATO helicopter flying from Afghanistan hit a Frontier Corps post in Kurram Agency and killed at least two border guards there.

A separate statement issue by the NATO -led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan quoted its commander General David Petraeus as saying: “We deeply regret this loss of life.”

The cross-border air strikes, seen by Pakistan as a violation of its territorial sovereignty, had sparked nationwide rumblings over the US-led incursions.