Pakistan will not tolerate any infringement of its territory in the name of the war on terror, president Asif Ali Zardari said today in a clear warning to US forces who in recent months have increasingly crossed the border to kill Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists.
Mr Zardari was making his first major address since being elected president earlier this month. He also pledged that Pakistan would fight terrorists based on its soil, and he promised that his own powers would be cut back.
In recent weeks unmanned Predator drones and even special forces have staged a number of attacks across the border from Afghanistan on terrorist targets, a sign of growing US frustration at the training camps and sanctuaries which have been out of their reach and, for the most part, untroubled by Pakistan’s own military.
American attacks on their soil are hugely unpopular among Pakistanis though and the issue has been a difficult one for the new president, who is close to America.
Mr Zardari, the widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, did not refer directly to recent US strikes in his speech.
“We will not tolerate the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terrorism,” he said in his first address to a joint sitting of parliament.
At the same time, Pakistan must stop militants from using its territory for attacks on other countries, he said.
“I ask of the government that it should be firm in its resolve to not allow the use of its soil for carrying out terrorist activities against any foreign country,” he told parliamentarians.
He also promised to cut back the powers taken by his predecessor, the ousted military dictator Pervez Musharraf.
He said: “Never before in the history of this country has a president given away his powers.”
By Nick Meo
Last Updated: 3:40PM BST 20 Sep 2008
Source: The Telegraph