The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Outraged Pak rejects US strike threats

Islamabad, July 23 (PTI): An outraged Pakistan today said US threats of possible strikes against militant hideouts in its tribal areas were “ill conceived” and “irresponsible and dangerous”.

It also said the threats complicate their cooperation in the war on terror.

“We have stated in the clearest terms that any attack inside our territory would be unacceptable,” foreign office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said. She was speaking in response to US remarks that Washington would not rule out unilateral attacks on al Qaida and pro-Taliban targets in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Any “ill-conceived action” inconsistent with principles of international law could undermine Pakistan’s efforts to deal with militants and would be “deeply resented in the tribal areas and generally in Pakistan. Such an action, as we have already stated, will be irresponsible and dangerous”, Aslam said.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said no military action from any other country would be allowed within the territory of Pakistan.

“Pakistan can handle its own requirements of troops. We do not need any other troops from anywhere to come and help. The sovereignty, integrity and security (of the country) is responsibility of Pakistan,” Aziz said in a TV interview.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan cooperated with many countries on counter-terrorism operations through dialogue and exchange of information. “Clearly, we cannot allow in Pakistan any group which jeopardises its security or security of another country. We are very capable of defending ourselves and securing ourselves. We believe we can handle our responsibilities,” Aziz said.

President Bush’s homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend said yesterday the US was committed first and foremost to working with Musharraf in his efforts to control militants in the border region. But she indicated the US was ready to take additional measures. “Job No. 1 is to protect the American people. There are no options off the table,” she said.

Reacting to the US statements, Aslam said: “Like any other country, we remain deeply concerned over the possibility of Qaida or any other terrorist entity establishing a sanctuary inside our territory. Our government and our security forces are determined not to permit such a development.”

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