Last Friday's US air strike on the remote village in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border has unleashed a furore in the Pakistani press.
Papers speak of a violation of the country's sovereignty, and demand an apology from Washington. Some also link the air raid to the controversy over Iran's nuclear programme.
Whether al-Zawahiri has been killed or not is important; but it is equally important for the Pakistan authorities to provide the exact details of Friday's incident. Did US spy planes intrude into Pakistani air space and fire missiles at a village? If yes, is this permitted under the rules of engagement with US forces based in Afghanistan? Do the US military and its agencies seek prior clearance from Pakistan before they launch raids like this? Questions like this involve aspects of Pakistan's sovereignty and need clear answers.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has left for a visit to the United States. The people of Pakistan expect him to represent the feelings of the nation, obtain clarifications from the US administration, and lodge a strong protest with them.
The attitude of US officials shows that they do not take the people and government of Pakistan seriously. If we remain silent over this, it is akin to burying our national pride and integrity. Our country's political and military leaders now need to sit down together and draw up a joint strategy. They should review their policy of friendship with USA, and make the sovereignty and stability of this country a priority.
The US air raid in Bajaur Agency has led to protests across the country. Our government should remember that if missiles can be fired on Bajaur, they can also target Pakistan's nuclear installations and other sensitive sites. The Crusader USA under President Bush is the enemy of Muslims. It can never be a friend of Pakistan.
This is a very serious, sensitive and crucial turn of events for the government of Pakistan, and particularly for President Musharraf. The people expect their leaders to reflect their feelings and not only protest about the incident in a fitting manner, but also compel the aggressor US administration to offer an apology.
President Musharraf should make the US administration understand that incidents like this one will have negative effects on US-Pakistan ties. Moreover, the USA should apologise for what it did in Bajaur Agency and assure us that similar actions will be avoided in future.
President Bush should give this matter some serious thought. If the US forces in Afghanistan are given free rein, the US mission will certainly face failure, and its interests in Pakistan will also be harmed. President Musharraf should make President Bush aware of the real state of affairs. If the USA wants success in the war against terror, it will have to trust Pakistan.
If actions of this sort are allowed to continue, the US forces could also target our nuclear installations. The USA is not our friend. It is worried about Iran's and our nuclear programmes and wants to do away with our nuclear capability along with that of Iran.
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