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Pakistan Summons Afghan Envoy to Protest Karzai's Military Threat

By VOA News
16 June 2008

Pakistan has summoned Afghanistan's ambassador to formally protest Afghan President Hamid Karzai's threat to send troops into Pakistan to fight Taliban militants.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi described Mr. Karzai's comments as "irresponsible" and "regrettable," saying Pakistan will "defend its territorial sovereignty."

Mr. Karzai warned Sunday that if Pakistan-based militants cross into his country, Afghanistan has the right to retaliate and destroy their hideouts in neighboring Pakistan. He said his forces would specifically go after Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Hundreds of Afghans rallied in Afghanistan's Paktika province Monday to support Mr. Karzai's comments.

U.S. President George Bush has called for calm. He said in London Monday that Pakistan and Afghanistan should share more information with each other, and with coalition forces.

Mr. Bush said he understands Mr. Karzai's concerns, but he did not say whether he supports the Afghan leader's threat of military action.

The dispute builds on already high tensions along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Last week a U.S. cross-border air strike launched from Afghanistan killed 11 Pakistani paramilitary troops. U.S. officials said the strike was intended for insurgents. Pakistan called the attack "unprovoked and cowardly."

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