The head of Pakistan’s military has ordered his country’s forces to respond instantly to any future aggression along the border with Afghanistan without waiting for instructions from high command.
Pakistani military sources confirmed to VOA Friday that General Ashfaq Kayani has told his soldiers to fully retaliate “irrespective of the cost and consequences” to any future aggression, following the deadly NATO bombing on two Pakistani border outposts nearly a week ago.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the country’s Parliamentary Committee on National Security Friday that under no circumstances would his government allow Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to be jeopardized by, what he called, “ill-considered and rash actions.”
He reiterated Pakistan’s frustration over continued calls from the West to do more in the fight against terrorism, saying there is a limit to Pakistan’s patience and that “cooperation cannot be a one-way street.”
Meanwhile, thousands of Pakistanis protested across the country following Friday prayers.
One Karachi University student said the Pakistani army is under attack.
“That shows that Pakistan is in a state of war. It’s our message out to the citizens of Pakistan, to the world outside, that Pakistan is in a state of war and the citizens of Pakistan are not dead.”
Pakistan’s military has blamed a communications breakdown with preventing it from responding effectively to the incident that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan maintains the attack was unprovoked.
Pakistani officials also deny a Wall Street Journal article that quoted U.S. officials as saying Pakistani authorities gave their approval for the November 27 NATO airstrike, unaware that their forces were in the area.
According to the unnamed U.S. officials in the report, an Afghan-led assault force, including American commandos, was hunting Taliban militants when the group came under fire from an encampment along the Afghan-Pakistani border in the Mohmand tribal region.
The U.S. officials said the commandos thought they were being fired upon by militants, but the assailants turned out to be Pakistani military personnel who had established a temporary campsite.
The article also says the initial U.S. account from the field indicates the U.S. commandos contacted a joint border-control center, which said there were no Pakistani troops in the area, before requesting airstrikes against the encampment.
The Wall Street Journal says U.S. officials have acknowledged there were errors made on both sides of the incident, which has prompted Pakistan to boycott next week’s international conference on Afghanistan’s future.
The newspaper says U.S. authorities have warned that the latest account is based on interviews with members of the commando team and could change as more information is gathered. It says a formal report is due to be completed by U.S. military investigators by December 23.