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Uproar erupts over NATO strikes inside Pakistan

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Oct 1, IRNA -- Vast majority of Pakistan has strongly condemned recent NATO intrusions into Pakistani territory terming the act against the sovereignty of the country.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that such attacks are unacceptable and against the mandate that international forces have been given and should not be repeated.

The strongly-worded protest was also communicated by Pakistan to NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Pakistani Foreign Office in a statement said: “In the absence of immediate corrective measures, Pakistan will be constrained to consider response options.”

Despite severe protest and warnings by Pakistan, the NATO helicopters on Thursday again shelled a paramilitary checkpost and killed three soldiers in a cross border attack in Kurram Agency, security officials said.

According to sources, this has been NATO’s third attack in Pakistani territory within a week.

More than 50 people have been killed in the recent air strikes.

The NATO attacks came after an escalation in drone strikes by the US on Pakistani soil.

The United States has significantly stepped up its bombings in Pakistan in recent weeks, carrying out at least 20 non-UN-sanctioned attacks in September.

Pakistani authorities in reaction to recent attack have stopped NATO supply trucks in northwest Pakistan.

There were more than 100 NATO vehicles blocked at the checkpoint.

The government officials said on Thursday, the order came to stop oil tankers and trucks carrying NATO supplies at the Torkham border post bordering Afghanistan.

The ISAF spokesman had earlier invoked the right of self-defence but after Pakistan sent a strongly worded protest reminding the military alliance that its mandate for operations ended at the Afghanistan border, the security force reportedly informed Pakistani commanders that it was trying to ensure that helicopters did not cross into Pakistani territory.

Analysts say that Pakistan is passing through a dilemma now days as, on one hand, the government wants to cooperate NATO forces on war against terror, but on the other, the US and now NATO have been violating its sovereignty.

The government of Pakistan has been following the strategy which is not acceptable to most of its public on war against terror.

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf supported the US policy of war on terror but failed to convince his public against the war.

Analysts say Pakistan could only stop US-led forces from such violations by tactfully using its leverages that largely relate to the support for war on terror and the supply routes.

In June 2008, a US airstrike killed 11 Pakistani troops and frayed the two nations’ ties.

Pakistan said the soldiers died when US aircraft bombed their border post in the Mohmand tribal region.

Polls show many Pakistanis regard the United States as an enemy, and conspiracy theories abound of US troops wanting to attack Pakistan and take over its nuclear weapons.

People say that the United States is following an unrealistic policy and would not be allowed to implement its agenda in Pakistan.

The US and NATO need Pakistan’s cooperation in part because they use its land routes to transport supplies to their troops inside landlocked Afghanistan.

The opposition in the National Assembly has asked the government to take up with NATO forces the issue of violating Pakistani sovereignty by shelling the tribal areas with helicopters.

Opposition leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan raised the issue demanding the government to take the Parliament into confidence on the aggression of NATO forces.

He said the United States is only friend of its own cause and it was time to ask Washington whether it was Pakistan’s friend or foe. “The United States never gave a space to Pakistan being its ally in war against terror,” he said.

He said the government should take the House into confidence about the recent violation of Pakistan’s territory, as it was an issue of national security.

Analysts say that it is time the Pakistani nation demanded of its state that it provide protection not become a party to its killing.

The involvement of Pakistan in war on terrorism has also been affecting its economy by damaging its economic environment.

The war, spread to the tribal and settled areas of Pakistani, is giving birth to fear among the foreign and local investors about the security of their money.

There is a lot of pressure on Pakistani government from the public to come out of the war on terror as they do not consider the war as their own war.

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