Pakistan on Monday registered a strong protest with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for conducting two aerial attacks on its territory from the Afghanistan side over the weekend. A demarche, according to the Foreign Office, has been relayed to NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“The International Security Assistance Force [in Afghanistan] and NATO have been asked not to participate in any military action that violates the United Nations mandate and infringes upon Pakistan's sovereignty. In the absence of immediate corrective measures, Pakistan will be constrained to consider response options,” a Foreign Office statement said while protesting the strikes inside its territory; purportedly in hot pursuit of the Haqqani network in North Waziristan.

Maintaining that such attacks by manned aircraft on its territory infringed upon Pakistan's sovereignty, the Foreign Office argued that these incidents are a clear violation and breach of the U.N. mandate under which ISAF operates”. According to Pakistan, the U.N. mandate “terminates/finishes” at the Afghanistan border and there were no agreed rules for hot pursuit as suggested by NATO/ISAF. “Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable.”

Further, it was pointed out that Pakistan has always emphasised the need for coordinated and joint action against forces inimical to regional and global peace. “Pakistan has boldly and at a great cost countered terrorists. Element of trust followed by capacity enhancement of Pakistan's armed forces was stressed.”

Nearly 50 terrorists are reported to have been killed in these helicopter strikes on Pakistani soil. Pakistan's reluctance to go after the Haqqani network has been a cause of concern for the Western forces engaged in the Global War on Terror in Afghanistan. Pakistan, on its part, has been maintaining that it would begin operations in North Waziristan at a time of its choosing; adding that opening multiple fronts against terrorists would stretch the Army too thin as the process of consolidating reclaimed terrorist-infested areas is still on.

Only last Thursday — responding to questions on reports of the U.S. deploying Afghan paramilitary forces in Pakistan for secret operations — Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit had said: “Our policy is very clear. We will never allow any foreign boots on our soil. This is one of our red lines and the international community including the U.S. knows about it.”

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