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Will retaliate to US unilateral raids on our soil: Pasha tells Petraeus

September 28, 2011 14:45 IST
Pakistan has informed the United States that it will be forced to retaliate if American forces attempt to launch a unilateral strike on the country's tribal belt that the US has said is a safe haven for Taliban elements, according to a media report.

The message was personally delivered by Inter-Services Intelligence powerful chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha to the Central Investigation Agency head General David Petraeus during the former's recent trip to Washington, an official familiar with the development told The Express Tribune.

The unnamed official said Pasha had informed Petraeus that the "Pakistani people will not tolerate any US misadventure" and the government will be left with no other option but to retaliate if American troops launch a unilateral raid, the report said.

Senior ISI members had felt "betrayed" by US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen's "blunt assessment" that the ISI had links with the Afghan Taliban-allied Haqqani network, the official said. Mullen has accused the ISI of supporting the Haqqani network to target US forces in Afghanistan.

The US has been pressing Pakistan to launch a military offensive against the Haqqanis in North Waziristan. However, in a closed-door meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence on Tuesday, a senior ISI official said the US was "simply attempting to make Pakistan the scapegoat to cover up its failures" in Afghanistan, the report said.

Sore wounds from the May 2 US raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden were reopened in the meeting when a lawmaker, quoting an ISI official, told the parliamentary panel that Pakistan will not tolerate an unilateral strike on its soil by US forces to target the safe havens of the Haqqani network.

"We cannot be caught off guard this time," the ISI official told lawmakers, referring to the raid that embarrassed Pakistan's security establishment because of its ignorance of the whereabouts of the world's most wanted man. "This time, we will give them a surprise if they (Americans) dare," the ISI official was quoted as saying.

Senate Standing Committee on Defence chairman Javed Ashraf Qazi, a former ISI chief, told reporters that lawmakers had voiced concern at threats emanating from the US. Qazi contended that Pakistan has the capability to give a "befitting response" to any attempts by the US to invade the tribal areas.

At the same time, the two side continued contacts on Tuesday to defuse the tensions in bilateral ties. US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter met Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir for the second time in as many days and later called on President Asif Ali Zardari.

Zardari held a separate meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to discuss the strained ties with the US and a meeting of all political parties convened by the premier on September 29.


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