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Islamabad: FO reminds Washington of ‘red lines’

FO RemindsISLAMABAD: Pakistan cautioned the US on Thursday against expanding its ‘special operations’ into the tribal areas, saying it could complicate counter-terrorism cooperation.

“I think we have made our position very clear. The US knows our position and red lines. We do not expect the US to complicate matters involving counter-terrorism, and secondly you all know Nato and Isaf mandate is restricted to Afghanistan,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said at his weekly media briefing.

The often mentioned, but never officially declared, red lines set by Islamabad, according to documents available with Dawn, include: “No foreign boots inside Pakistan; no expansion of Isaf/Nato mandate to cover Pakistan, no expansion of drone attacks into Balochistan, no contact group on Pakistan and end to vilification of ISI.”

Mr Basit’s comments came in reaction to a New York Times report that the US was contemplating to expand its special operation ground raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas straddling the Afghan border for capturing militants and gathering vital intelligence.

In a recently released summary of the annual Pakistan-Afghan review, the Obama administration highlighted the continued presence of terrorist sanctuaries in Fata as a major challenge to restoring peace to Afghanistan.

Washington, notwithstanding its public posturing of being sensitive to Pakistan’s concerns, has been clearly dissatisfied with Islamabad’s efforts to root out sanctuaries from the tribal belt, particularly North Waziristan.

Pakistan, Mr Basit said, was committed against terrorism and extremism and its law-enforcement agencies were carrying out operations wherever required.

“We already have troops in North Waziristan and the scope and timing of operations there will be determined by us and us alone,” he said.

IRAN: Denying any differences between Pakistan and Iran over Iranian terrorist group Jundallah’s bases, the spokesman said both countries were working with “mutual understanding and harmony”.

Mr Basit said bilateral mechanisms were in place to address the issues of terrorism and trans-national organised crimes.

“Both our countries are committed to working together and eliminating these pernicious evils.”

KASHMIR: Mr Basit tried to downplay absence of any reference to the unresolved dispute of Kashmir from a joint statement issued at the end of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s visit last week.

“We all know as to what China’s position is on Jammu and Kashmir. China has always supported Pakistan and they have supported that the issue be resolved peacefully and through dialogue and this continues to be China’s position,” he said.

Despite the obvious Kashmir omission, Pakistan reaffirmed its support for ‘One China Policy’ and warned against “any attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in his speech at a banquet in honour of the Chinese prime minister had drawn Mr Wen’s attention to Kashmir.

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