Prior to the Cabinet Committee on Defence, meetings were called separately by the civil and military leaders – and both had issued hard-hitting statements.
Before the meeting, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and Hina Rabbani Khar, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, held a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari and condemned the attack.
“This is an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty,” said Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. “We will not let any harm come to Pakistan’s sovereignty and solidarity.”
Following a meeting of high-ranking army officials, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, said in a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) that “all necessary steps be under taken for an effective response to this irresponsible act.
“It has been demanded that strong and urgent action be taken against those responsible for this aggression.”
The Foreign Office said it would take up the matter “in the strongest terms” with Nato and the United States.
It summoned US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter and lodged a strong protest against Saturday’s attack.Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir conveyed to the US ambassador that the attack had deeply incensed the government and the people of Pakistan.
The president, prime minister and the government of Pakistan strongly condemn the attacks, he said, terming the assault “totally unacceptable” and constituting “grave infringement of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”
Over in Washington, Iffat Gardezi, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Pakistani Embassy, has lodged a verbal protest over the attack. A Pakistan Embassy spokesperson told The Express Tribune that Gardezi had raised the issue in strong words.
Is this meaningful action?
Though the action has been taken, it remains to be seen how long it will last, and what outcome will be pursued.
The US, a few months back, had turned down Pakistan’s request to close Shamsi base after the Osama Bin Laden incident. Similarly, a similar incident on Sept 30, 2009, which killed two Pakistani troops, led to the closure of one of NATO’s supply routes through Pakistan for 10 days. Nato apologised for that incident, which it said happened when Nato gunships mistook warning shots by the Pakistani forces for a militant attack.
Defence analyst Asad Munir said that the incident will not damage Pak-US relations and the issue would not go beyond closing of Nato supply routes for a few days. “Such incidents have happened in the past and they will apologise after conducting an investigation,” Munir added. Other analysts, including Rustam Shah Mohmand, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, said Pakistan would protest and close the supply lines for some time, but that ultimately “things will get back to normal”.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2011.
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