Seeking a comprehensive review of Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States in the wake of a deadly NATO strike, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said troops have been instructed to respond “with full force” to any further act of aggression as “there is a limit to our patience.”
Mr. Gilani made the remarks while briefing a special meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security that was convened to discuss the November 26 NATO air strike on two Pakistani military posts that killed 24 soldiers and its impact on future cooperation with the U.S. and its allies.
“Clearly, there is a limit to our patience. Cooperation cannot be a one-way street,” Mr. Gilani told the Parliamentary panel on Friday.
The “dastardly” attack was a “grave infringement of Pakistan’s territorial frontiers” by NATO and would “definitely compel us to revisit our national security paradigm”, he said.
“Instructions have been issued to all units of the Pakistan armed forces to respond, with full force, to any act of aggression and infringement of Pakistan’s territorial frontiers,” he told the panel.
Mr. Gilani sought recommendations from the panel for a joint session of Parliament that will be convened shortly to discuss the fallout of the NATO attack.
The Pakistan premier signalled a possible shift in Pakistan’s policy for the U.S.-led war on terror, which Islamabad has supported since the 9/11 terror attacks.
“Our security and counter-terrorism policy needs to be pursued in a manner that suits Pakistan’s national interests,” he said.
Mr. Gilani noted that the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, the highest decision-making body on security issues, had already decided that the government would “undertake a complete review of all programmes, activities and cooperative arrangements with the US/NATO/ISAF, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence” cooperation.
“Given the gravity of the situation, it is imperative to undertake a holistic review of national security and the future of our cooperation with the United States and NATO,” he said.
Pakistan had responded angrily to the NATO air strike by closing all routes used to transport supplies to American and allied forces in Afghanistan and asking the U.S. to vacate Shamsi airbase, reportedly used by CIA-operated drones.
The government also decided to boycott the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan’s future to be held on December 5.
Mr. Gilani and Pakistan Army’s Director General of Military Operations, Maj. Gen. Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmed, gave a detailed briefing to the Parliamentary committee on the NATO attack and its fallout on Pakistan-U.S. relations.
The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
Pakistan’s willingness to cooperate with the world community on counter-terrorism “has not been understood in its proper perspective”, Mr. Gilani contended.
“The notion to give Pakistan a ‘to do’ list and the mantra of ‘do more’ have caused immense resentment,” he said.
“In recent months, there has been a tendency to project Pakistan not as a ‘partner’ but as the ‘problem’,” Mr. Gilani said.