M A I N   N E W S

Pak warns US, India on Abbottabad-like strike
Slams Washington for unilateral action
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

A day after the US talked of more Abbottabads if Pakistan did not act against terror, Pakistan retaliated by warning both the US and India against any further covert operation in its territory, saying this would lead to a “terrible catastrophe”.

“Our armed forces have the capacity, ability and determination to defend the security and sovereignty of the country,” Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said on Thursday at the first news conference by a senior Pakistani official after the US operation that killed Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. Any country that attempts to "mimic" the unilateral act of the US will find it has made a "basic miscalculation", he said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had on Wednesday warned of more Abbottabads. “The US will again carry out special operations in Pakistan like the one that killed Osama to target high-profile terrorists, if Pakistan does not act against terror suspects holed up in that country,” he had said.

Admitting that the US assault that killed Osama bin Laden did achieve “important results”, he said: “This cannot be taken as a rule.”

Responding to a query on the remarks of Indian military officials about mounting a raid against leaders of Pakistan-based terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Bashir said such comments are “a matter of concern”.

“I only see them as symptomatic of trends and tendencies within the Indian establishment and their armed forces to subver the agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I don’t think the Indian leadership would really subscribe to this”.

But he observed, “We shall not be intimidated and there should be no misunderstanding about our determination to defend ourselves,” adding that any sort of adventurism would lead to catastrophic consequences. Bashir also took strong exception to the statement by CIA chief Leon Panetta insinuating either complicity or incompetence on part of the Pakistan’s intelligence agency by avowing ignorance about Osama’s presence in Abbottabad.

“The theme of complicity coming from Mr Panetta is based on false charges and motivated to pressure Pakistan to do more,” Bashir said.

He defended the ISI’s record in combating terrorism saying it is not equated by any other agency in the world. He recalled how the ISI successfully arrested hundreds of key Al-Qaida operatives since 2002. He said the problems faced by the world and Pakistan resulted from the US’ Tora Bora operation in Afghanistan.

“The operation was carried out against our advice and allowed Al-Qaida leaders to disperse all over Pakistan,” he added. He reiterated that the US operation was made possible by leads provided by Pakistan that also resulted in the arrest of the courier in Abbotabad.

He said that the US Chairman of Join Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen immediately talked to Army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani after the operation. “It was Mr Mullen who referred to the sovereignty issue in the course of their conversation.” (With inputs from agencies)





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