WASHINGTON, Jan 12: The US State Department and the Pentagon have both assured Pakistan that the United States has no plan to take unilateral military action inside its tribal territory.
The assurance followed President Pervez Musharraf’s strong warning, given in an interview to a Singapore newspaper this week, that if US troops entered Pakistani territory without permission they would be considered invaders.
“Certainly, anything that the United States has done and anything the United States will do will be in full cooperation with the Pakistani government,” said the department’s deputy spokesman Tom Casey.
Asked to comment on President Musharraf’s statement, Mr Casey said since the two countries had a “cooperative relationship,” there was no need for a unilateral action.
The United States, he said, considers Pakistan an important partner in combating terrorism and extremism and would like to continue this relationship.
At the Pentagon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen went a step ahead and said that while Washington was willing to help Pakistan combat extremists hiding in Fata, any military action in that region will have to be taken by Pakistan. “We are mindful that Pakistan is a sovereign country and certainly it’s really up to President Musharraf and certainly his advisers and his military to address that problem directly,” he said.
When asked what options the United States had for dealing with the growing insurgency in Fata, Admiral Mullen reminded the questioner that the insurgency in the tribal region “is principally a sovereign country’s concern.”