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Pakistan launches damage control exercise over cross-border raids

September 12, 2008 19:36 IST

Pakistan has launched a major damage control exercise in Washington after reports said that President George W. Bush has secretly authorised cross-border raids into the restive tribal belt, questioning Islamabad's [Images] claim to be a "key ally" of the US in the war against terror.
      
Pakistans Ambassador in Washington Husain Haqqani went to the White House to meet officials of the National Security Agency and met lawmakers on Capitol Hill, trying to assure them that Islamabad remained a key partner in the war against terror, The Dawn reported on Friday.
      
Haqqani's consultations with officials at the White House and the State Department focused on a New York Times report that Bush had given secret orders in July authorizing US armed forces to carry out ground assaults in Pakistan without seeking approval from Pakistan's government.
      
The report has caused much concern in Islamabad with the Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in an unusually strong public statement yesterday, vowed to defend the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity "at all cost".
      
But Haqqani has rejected the report as unfounded. "It is our understanding that the kind of authorisation for US military actions in Pakistan has not been given," he said, adding that Washington respects Pakistan's sovereignty and viewed the country as "as partners."

Haqqani said that US officials had assured him that Washington had "no aggressive designs or postures" towards Pakistan. "They appreciate the stance of President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and Army Chief Kayani on this issue," he said.

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