US scurries to mollify Pakistan

US scurries to mollify Pakistan

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar telephoned US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Pakistan’s “deep sense of rage” over the air strikes.

“Such attacks are totally unacceptable. They demonstrate complete disregard for international law and human life, and are in stark violation of Pakistani sovereignty,” Khar said.

Saturday’s attacks led to outrage in Islamabad’s political and army establishment and sparked off intense public anger against the US. The government announced the closure of its border with Afghanistan to Nato convoys ferrying supplies to 1,30,000 US-led foreign troops fighting the Taliban, and asked the US to vacate the Shamsi air base reportedly used by the CIA to launch its drones against Taliban, al Aqeda and Haqqani network targets.

Nato commanders in Afghanistan admitted that their aircraft could have caused deaths in Saturday’s attack, the fourth on a border post in 15 months.

The US-Pakistan relations have suffered over the last year, with the latter detaining a CIA contract employee accused of killing two Pakistanis, and the US special forces’ successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden at Abbotabad, close to the Pakistan army’s Kakul base. In the aftermath of the attack, the relationship between the two countries suffered deep erosion, with the US accusing Pakistan of harbouring, hosting and facilitating terrorists ranged against the US.

Islamabad said Saturday’s incident forces it to revisit the terms of engagement with Washington.

In a bid to salvage its already strained ties with Pakistan, the US quickly promised to back a probe into the deadly attack that took place in the restive Mohmand tribal region in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa province. In Brussels, Nato came out with a regret in the evening, saying the incident was “unintended”.