Pakistan Warns Cross-Border Raid Could Provoke Backlash
Pakistani lawmakers have denounced Wednesday's raid by foreign troops in Pakistani territory, passing a resolution condemning the operation and vowing to repel similar attacks in the future. The Pakistani military warned such operations could provoke a backlash in the country's volatile tribal regions.
Wednesday's raid was the first confirmed ground operation by foreign troops based in Afghanistan and it dominated the agenda in Pakistan's parliament.
Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi said the government had already summoned the U.S. ambassador to complain.
He said the operation was shameful because it violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a U.S. ally in the war against terrorism.
Details about the raid remain unclear, including who was behind it. Western news agencies have reported that U.S. military sources claim American troops based in Afghanistan carried out the assault on a village less than two kilometers from the Afghan border. The number of people reported killed varied from seven to 20 and Pakistani officials said nearly all of them were civilians.
Pakistan's military has worked with U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan for several years to establish guidelines governing military action along their shared border.
Pakistan army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said Wednesday's operation was an unprecedented violation of those guidelines.
"In the past the other side, NATO ISAF, have been engaging the foreign militants present in the area and on this actionable intelligence they engage them through their Predators [drones]," he said. "But never before did a single incursion take place, which has serious consequences."
The cross-border operation follows months of increased violence in eastern Afghanistan. U.S. commanders have blamed safe havens in Pakistani tribal areas for giving militants space to re-arm and plan attacks.
But Major General Abbas said Wednesday's assault was especially worrying because there were no reports of militants in the area. He said such operations risked alienating local tribes whose support is vital for defeating Taliban militants.
"We do not want this line which is dividing the militant component and the tribe at large to diminish," he said. "Because if it gets obliterated where the tribe and the militant join each other - and there is an uprising against the local security forces or the forces from outside - this would create one big problem."
Top Pakistani and U.S. commanders met on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean last week to discuss border security. Major General Abbas insisted the officials did not authorize cross-border ground assaults such as Wednesday's raid in South Waziristan.