ISLAMABAD, Sept 11: The government expressed its determination on Thursday to defend the country’s borders in the wake of increasing air attacks by US-led forces on tribal areas and American and British demands that international security forces be allowed to target what they call Al Qaeda ‘sanctuaries’ in areas bordering Afghanistan.

“We would take all possible steps to safeguard the country’s borders,” Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza

Gilani told reporters after laying the foundation of the Zero Point interchange here on Thursday.

“The nation should not be upset by the statement of US Admiral Mike Mullen who threatened more strikes inside Pakistan,” he said, adding that the government was capable of protecting the country’s borders.

Commenting on Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s statement that the country’s borders would be defended at all cost and no external force would be allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan, the prime minister said the statement of the army chief reflected the government policy. The government had the same views as expressed by the army chief on defending the country’s sovereignty and integrity, he added.

COMMANDERS ENDORSE stand: Top army commanders on Thursday discussed the national security situation with reference to threats of US incursions in the tribal areas and endorsed the army chief’s statement about defending the country’s sovereignty.

A meeting of corps commanders was held against the backdrop of a change in the US strategy in the region and US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s remarks indicating possibility of more air strikes inside Pakistan “to prevent more attacks on the American people”.

Although, no official statement was released by the ISPR after the first day of the conference, sources told Dawn that the corps commanders had fully endorsed the policy statement given by Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani that no foreign country was allowed to conduct military operations inside Pakistan.

The meeting discussed the situation in areas bordering Afghanistan, the statement by the Nato spokesman that it would not become part of the new US strategy involving more raids inside Pakistan and matters pertaining to relations with the US in the context of war on terror.

This was the first meeting of corps commanders after the resignation of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

The sources said that Gen Kayani briefed the commanders on his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari.

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