Wednesday 17 January 2018

Pakistan to US: we will defend our airspace

Dean Nelson in Islamabad

PAKISTAN'S prime minister will warn the United States today that it will defend its airspace if US forces mount another raid in the country.

Yusuf Raza Gilani will seek to restore some dignity in an address to the nation after the humiliation caused when US Seals killed Osama bin Laden at a compound close to Pakistan's main military academy in Abbottabad.

A senior government source said that Mr Gilani would take an aggressive stand to shore up the government's position.

The source said: "The prime minister will say that the US should not have bypassed Pakistan. We have made a huge contribution in fighting terrorism. We've arrested close to 100 al-Qa'ida people, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"We'll take appropriate action if any further violation takes place. We will defend our airspace."

He will say that Washington's decision to launch the raid without consulting Islamabad had plunged relations between the two nations to a new low.

Sources in Mr Gilani's office said the country's air defences on its western border will now be upgraded to confront any future US raids.

The prime minister is under pressure from opponents, including his own former foreign minister, Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, who has called on him and President Asif Ali Zardari to resign over the issue.

Mr Gilani's warning will raise the threat of military confrontation after new information discovered at Bin Laden's compound was said to disclose the whereabouts of his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, inside Pakistan.

The raid by US Navy Seals had taken place just weeks after Pakistan army chief General Kiyani had met his US counterpart and agreed to increase co-operation, according to Pakistani government sources. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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