Nirupama Subramanian

Women, children among victims in U.S. attack

Attack leaves Pakistanis shocked

It will fuel hatred, says Minister

ISLAMABAD: Condemning an attack by Afghanistan-based western troops in a tribal area of Pakistan that killed at least 15 people as a violation of sovereignty, the Pakistani Parliament asked its government on Thursday to use “full force” to thwart such incidents.

The National Assembly and the Senate, the two Houses of Parliament, adopted strongly-worded resolutions against Wednesday’s attack in South Waziristan, not yet acknowledged officially by the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

But Pakistani officials said ground troops dropped off by helicopters at a village near the border town of Angoor Adda in the pre-dawn hours carried out the attack.

A number of women and children were said to be among the dead. It is not clear if the others who died were civilians or militants.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureishi told the National Assembly that “only women and children” were killed, and there were no-high value targets among the dead.

Governor of the North-West Frontier Province Owais Ghani Khan said at least 20 people, “most of them women and children” were killed in the attack.

News reports from the area said the attack lasted 30 minutes during which helicopter gunships and fighter jets provided cover to the ground troops. The troops reportedly targeted three houses using their assault rifles.

The attack has shocked Pakistanis. They have been used to frequent intrusions into Pakistan’s air space by missile-bearing Predators and unmanned drones, but this is the first reported instance of a ground attack by coalition troops inside the country.

Hours after the incident, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. Ambassador to lodge a protest.

In the National Assembly, Mr. Qureshi described the attack as “shameful”, and warned that it would “fuel hatred” against America in the tribal areas.

He said the attack broke “the rules of engagement” between Pakistan and the international troops in Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan had a “proven record” of participation in the war against terror. The country had deployed thousands of troops and lost many soldiers, yet it had been subjected to an attack that violated its sovereignty, he said.

“We have made it absolutely clear to the United States, which is presently commanding the ISAF, that violation of Pakistani territory is not acceptable,” he said.

The National Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution, jointly moved by the government and opposition parties, condemning the attack as “a gross violation of Pakistan’ sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

The resolution stated that the attack “undermines the norms of international law and contradicts simply the very basis of cooperation between Pakistani security forces and ISAF/Coalition forces in Afghanistan”.

Stating Pakistan’s commitment to combat terrorism, the House asked the government “to take all necessary measures to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and repel such attacks in the future with full force”.

A similar resolution was adopted in the Senate.