Nato not to carry out ‘hot pursuit’

June 26, 2008

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ISLAMABAD, June 25: A senior Nato official regretted on Wednesday the US-led forces’ cross-border attack in which 11 Pakistani soldiers were killed earlier this month and assured that Nato forces would not enter Pakistan’s territory in ‘hot pursuit’.

“Nato recognises Pakistan’s sovereignty and integrity,” ambassador James W. Pardew, deputy secretary-general for operations at Nato headquarters in Brussels, told a press conference here. However, he added: “Nato soldiers do have the right to defend themselves.”

Acknowledging that the deadly missile attack had strained relations between Nato and Pakistan, he said: “Had there been proper coordination between Nato, Pakistan and Afghanistan, this most regrettable incident in Mohmand Agency would not have happened.”

Ambassador Pardew also acknowledged that military operations alone could not eliminate terrorism and other options, including accelerating development and improving governance on both sides of the border, should also be explored.

“We want to see a change between Nato and Pakistan’s army cooperation at a technical level so that such tragic incidents do not recur.”

He said the incident was being investigated and he had come to Pakistan to discuss ways and means to increase cooperation between Kabul-based tripartite commission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Pakistan and Afghanistan to jointly fight terrorism.

“This commission will be made more effective.”

Ambassador Pardew said that although Nato was not against holding dialogue with Taliban to secure peace, “we are not in the negotiation business, therefore, we cannot opt for it”.

He said he had met senior officials of the foreign and interior ministries and would meet the director-general of military operations (DGMO) at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Highlighting the need for closer political and military dialogue between Nato and Pakistan, he said: “I have delivered a letter from Nato secretary-general for the Pakistan prime minister, inviting him to visit Brussels.”

He also said that he was visiting Pakistan to encourage military educational exchanges for Pakistani army at various Nato facilities in Germany and Italy.

“Nato and Pakistan share common interests and common threats,” he said.

He said all Nato and its partners had a major interest in a stable Afghanistan.