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Pak army to retaliate if US conducts raids
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

The Pakistan Army has been ordered to retaliate against any action by foreign troops inside the country, army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said on Friday.

General Abbas' statement came as top brass of the Pakistan Army in their meeting on second day fully endorsed their chief's warning that no country would be allowed to violate Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

A press release issued after the 111th Corps Commanders Conference quoted General Ashfaq Kayani as saying that “all elements of the National Power under the new democratic leadership will safeguard the territorial integrity of Pakistan with full support and backing of the people of Pakistan.”

General Kayani's statement on Wednesday regarding army's resolve to defend borders at all costs against the backdrop of repeated US threats of cross-border raids inside Pakistan territory bordering Afghanistan has been widely acclaimed in the country. It has refurbished army's image that had touched rock bottom because of its involvement in internal politics under Pervez Musharraf.

Political leaders and the media, while welcoming Kayani's bold stand, made an embarrassing comparison to relatively feeble response from democratic government. Officials here said Kayani's expression," under the new democratic leadership" was designed to dispel the impression that the army was competing with the government in winning popular acclaim.

It was not clear how the army would retaliate to American raids but in an earlier statement chief of Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmad, had claimed that the PAF has the capability to intercept air strikes inside Pakistan territory. In a related development, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, parliamentary leader of the PML-N Thursday urged the government to convene a joint session of Parliament to discuss the American threats. He said the joint session would strengthen government's response to foreign pressure and help devise a national policy on war on terrorism.



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