WASHINGTON, July 23: The White House assured Islamabad on Monday that it had no plan to carry out an invasion, but at the same time it said that the United States retained the right to attack ‘actionable targets’ inside Pakistan. “I think there has been this notion afoot, or at least an attempt or an inclination, somehow we’re going to invade Pakistan,” noted White House press secretary Tony Snow.

“We always maintain the option of striking actionable targets, but we also realise that Pakistan is a sovereign government and a very important player in the war on terror,” he added.

Mr Snow was commenting on a statement by the Foreign Office in Islamabad that Pakistan would resist any attack on a target inside its territory.

“Some US authorities are giving certain statements and comments that tribal areas of Pakistan have been turned into safe havens for Al Qaeda militants and the US can go for military strike inside Pakistan,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said at a briefing in Islamabad.

“Let us make it clear that any military action inside our borders under an excuse of hunt for Al Qaeda militants will not be acceptable,” she said. “If any such attack is made, it will be a sheer breach of international laws. A stiff resistance will come out against it.”

Her comments apparently irked American journalists. They pressed Mr Snow for a response at a regular White House briefing.

The White House spokesperson, however, refused to indulge in a war of words with Islamabad, preferring instead to quietly reiterate the US position and reminded the journalists that Pakistan is a ‘great ally’ in the war against terror.

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