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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity to be defended at all cost: Gen Ashfaq Kayani
RAWALPINDI, Sep 10 (APP): Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesdays said that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all cost and no external force is 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”, says an ISPR press release issued here .
Referring to his meeting with United States senior officers on USS Abraham Lincoln on 27th August, he 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 like situations, military action alone cannot solve the problem. Political reconciliatory effort was required to go alongwith 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.
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani also regretted the killing of innocent civilians in the incident of Angoor Adda on 4th September.
He said that such like reckless actions only help the militants and further fuel the militancy in the area.
He said that Pakistan Army has conducted successful operations against the militants in the past and at present is committed to eliminate them from the affected areas of FATA and Swat.
He said that our Security Forces have given huge sacrifices in this war and it is the presence of the Army which has denied the freedom of movement and operation to Al Qaeda and the affiliates.
He said that it is support of the people of Pakistan which would be decisive.
The COAS reiterated the need for a collaborative approach for better understanding of a highly complex issue. He said that trust-deficit and misunderstandings can lead to more complications and increase the difficulties for all. The constraints of operating in these areas must never be lost sight of.
He re-emphasized that there are no quick fixes in this war. Falling for short term gains while ignoring our long term interest, is not the right way forward.
To succeed, the Coalition would be required to display strategic patience and help the other side the way they want it rather than adopting a unilateral approach which may be counter productive.
He said that it is the multi-pronged approach, fully supported by the people of Pakistan which will help us defeat the threat of internal terrorism.

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