With reports confirming the upgrading of Pakistan’s air defence along its border with Afghanistan, the prime minister on Friday struck a forewarning tone with the US.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani warned the US and its Nato allies on Friday that any future cross-border attack would meet with a “detrimental response”.
Gilani made the comments while meeting Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the prime minister’s secretariat said in a statement.
“The democratic government will not allow similar attacks on the country’s sovereignty and any attempt in the future will definitely meet with the detrimental response,” Gilani said, referring to a cross-border Nato air strike last month which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, which dragged US-Pakistani relations to plunge to a new low.
Pakistani security officials earlier said they had upgraded the air defence system on the Afghan border to make it capable of shooting down aircraft. “Now we have a fully equipped air defence system on the Afghan border. It has the capability to trace and detect any aircraft,” an official in Peshawar told AFP.
“The system has also been upgraded to immediately respond after detecting any aircraft or helicopter and to shoot it down,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.
Meanwhile, Kayani informed the prime minister of the steps taken on the western borders to revamp defence capabilities aimed at effectively countering any future incursion into Pakistani territory.
“The government and the people of Pakistan were ready to provide the armed forces all the necessary resources to bolster its defence and professional capabilities,” Gilani said.
While declining to comment about Pakistan’s decision to ramp up its air defense on the Pak-Afghan border, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Affairs Captain John F Kirby said that it was a decision made by Pakistan and they would not respond to it.
However, Captain Kirby said that the US continued to want to have a coordination and cooperation system with Pakistan. “We understand we’re in a rough relationship with Pakistan in the wake of the incident,” he told The Express Tribune, saying that they “are very sincere about fully investigating the incident”. He added that the US was working hard on the military-to-military relationship.
Pakistan shut its border to Nato supply convoys on November 26, hours after the deadliest single cross-border attack of the 10-year war in Afghanistan.
The government also ordered the US to leave the Shamsi Air Base in the southwest, widely reported to be a hub in the covert CIA drone war against the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Pakistan gave tacit support to the programme, but no US drone strike has been reported on Pakistani soil since November 17.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HUMA IMTIAZ IN WASHINGTON)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2011.
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