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U.S. to include Pak in Afghanistan strategy while COAS vows to defend sovereignty, territorial integrity

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RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday said that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all cost and no external force will be allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan. He was commenting on the recent incident where innocent civilians were killed in a cross-border raid by the Coalition Forces.

He said that the rules of engagement with the Coalition Forces are well defined and within that, the right to conduct operations against the militants inside own territory is solely the responsibility of the respective armed forces. There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the Coalition Forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border.

Referring to his meeting with United States senior officers on USS Abraham Lincoln on 27th August, Kayani said that they were informed about the complexity of the issue that requires understanding in depth and more patience for evolving comprehensive solution. He said that own viewpoint was elaborated in detail and it was stressed that in such situations, military action alone cannot solve the problem. Political reconciliatory effort was required to go along with the military prong to win hearts and minds of the people.

During the discussion, the imperative of public support at large for the military operations also came under focus. Later, United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen acknowledged the better understanding of ground realities by the COAS, and remarked, “he (the COAS) is committed to doing what is best for Pakistan and he is going to stay the same”. He reiterated that ultimately it is our national interest, which would always guide our policy.

It is important to note that U.S. has included Pakistan into its Afghanistan war strategy. It is told that The U.S. military, faced with rising insurgent violence in Afghanistan, will revise its strategy for region to include militant safe havens in neighboring Pakistan, the top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday. “I’m not convinced we are winning it in Afghanistan. I am convinced we can,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a congressional hearing.

He said he was “looking at a new, more comprehensive strategy for the region” that would cover both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. “In my view, these two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them,” he said. Mullen was speaking after the United States stepped up attacks on militant targets inside Pakistan, including a raid by helicopter-borne U.S. commandos last week.

Input from Agencies

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