Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pakistan warns US over 'unilateral' missile strikes on its soil

The Times

Prime Minister in open rebuke to President Bush in Washington after US missile strike on Pakistani soil

Tensions between Pakistan and the United States came to the fore last night when Yousuf Raza Gilani, the new Pakistani Prime Minister, met President Bush and warned him not to launch "unilateral" strikes on Pakistani soil.

The meeting came just hours after Pakistani security officials said that a suspected US missile strike on a village in Pakistan's northern tribal areas might have killed an al-Qaeda chemical and biological weapons expert.

Mr Gilani, who has been under pressure to do more to combat al-Qaeda and Taleban militants in Pakistan, told reporters after his meeting at the White House that Pakistan was committed to fighting extremists.

"We are committed to fight against those extremists and terrorists who are destroying and making the world not safe," he said.

"This is our own war; this is a war which is against Pakistan."

He went further in an interview with CNN a few hours later, when he was asked about the suspected US missile strike earlier in the day.

Mr Gilani said he had told Mr Bush that "unilaterally it should not be done".

If the missile strike was proven to have been a US operation, it would be a violation of Pakistani sovereignty, he said.

"Basically Americans are a little impatient. Therefore in the future I think we'll have more co-operation on the intelligence side and we'll do the job ourselves," he said.

Pakistan has been a key US ally in the War on Terror ever since the September 11, 2001 attacks and has received an estimated $10 billion in mostly military aid in return over the last six years.

But Mr Gilani's remarks revealed the growing tension between Islamabad and Washington...........

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