US troops launched a missile strike in Northern Pakistan on Thursday, hours after Adm. Mike Mullen,
chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, assured leaders that the US would respect the nation’s sovereignty.
US infringes Pakistani sovereignty
CARLO BASILONE, TRNN (VOICEOVER): A US missile killed five people in a Pakistani village less than a day after Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, restated American respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty. According to Radio Australia, four missiles fired from a suspected US drone hit a compound in South Waziristan near the Afghan border yesterday. The reported attack will likely fuel anger in Pakistan over an escalation in cross-border operations by US forces, including a September 3 ground assault that has strained the seven-year anti-terror alliance between the two allies. A week after the initial assault, Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani issued a strong public rebuke of the US, saying Pakistan’s territorial integrity “will be defended at all costs.” He added, “Falling for short-term gains while ignoring our long-term interest is not the right way forward.” Mullen was in Pakistan to meet with Prime Minister Raza Gillani and General Kayani to try to lessen military tensions with Pakistan after it was revealed in a New York Times article that President Bush approved of US attacks on militants in Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. In an interview with the BBC, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates defended the right of American forces to strike at militants on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border.
ROBERT GATES, US DEFENSE SECRETARY: I wouldn’t go in that direction. I would just say that we will take whatever actions are necessary to protect our troops.
BASILONE: On Thursday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters that Pakistani officials were unaware of the suspected strike late Wednesday.
SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI, PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER: Whether they informed us? No, sir, we were not informed. Now, when the statement that was made by Admiral Mullen yesterday—you’ve seen that, I’m sure, you know, the press has read about it—it’s a clear, clear commitment to respect of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Mullen is saying that. And when he says that, I have to respect that, and I have to understand that. Now, if, having said that, there was an attack later in the night, that means that there is some sort of a institutional disconnect on their side.
BASILONE: In a column on the website TomDispatch.com, Pakistani-born journalist and writer Tariq Ali suggests, “This is a carefully coordinated move to weaken the Pakistani state yet further by creating a crisis that extends way beyond the badlands on the frontier with Afghanistan. Its effects on Pakistan could be catastrophic, creating a severe crisis within the army and in the country at large. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the US presence in the region, viewing it as the most serious threat to peace.”
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.