WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (APP): Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said the NATO attack on Pakistani Mohmand checkposts is not an isolated incident and has raised much bigger questions than whether Islamabad will join an investigation into the event. “I think the questions raised in Pakistan are much larger than whether we will participate in the investigation or not. I want to emphasize on the fact that this is not an isolated incident,” she told National Public Radio in an interview in the wake of November 26 strike that resulted in deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Khar, interviewed while she was in
Lahore on Tuesday, was underscoring the importance Pakistan attaches to
respect for its sovereignty in the fight against terrorists along the
Afghan border. The foreign minister, pressing her point, also pointed
out the May 2 unilateral raid on Abbottabad and the questions that it
raised about the red lines that Pakistan has put in place, while
cooperating with the international community in the anti-terror fight.
“If the terms of engagement are not
clearly understood, are not clearly respected, that gives each of the
parties the right to go back and reassess the situation that I think
Pakistan is, today, just exercising that right.” Following the deadly
attack, Khar said, Islamabad has to do “some serious introspection to
see what we make of the role that we play within the international
efforts in Afghanistan.
“As to the question of sovereignty
of Pakistan, this question of territorial integrity of Pakistan, and
really, the questions are being asked that - is it too much of a cost
that Pakistan has paid?”
Pakistan, the foreign minister
said, feels its role in the decade-old fight against terror has been
“misinterpreted, has not been recognized, has not been appreciated
“And, on top of that, to have an
incident in which we feel, at best, giving the benefit of doubt, our
soldiers lost their lives to an extremely callous attitude. This episode
has obviously created a lot of rage in Pakistan because this is not the
first time that Pakistan has lost its soldiers to NATO fire.”
While Pakistan would like to wait
for detailed investigations, the current briefings “seem to be pointing
towards a direction which is not a happy case to be in,” the chief
Pakistani diplomat elaborated in answer to a question whether the NATO
strike was deliberate.
“If it is a deliberate attempt,
then the questions that I referred to would obviously be much, much,
much more serious,” the foreign minister remarked.
“I’m not going to run to any
conclusion and I hope that is not true, but the fact of the matter is
that even if it is a mistake, its certainly a callous mistake because
this did not happen over five minutes. This was into hours, for sure,
and that leaves many, many unanswered questions,” she responded to
She disagreed with the proposition
that U.S. assistance for Pakistan limits her country’s leverage in
responding to such incidents and termed the notion of Pakistan’s
dependence on U.S. assistance as exaggeration.
“I would hope not because I think,
you know, I like to call it the dependency syndrome. It’s
over-exaggerated. I think we have to really get grips on what this
relationship is really about. And for Pakistan, this relationship is
not about aid and assistance. I think there are far too many much more
important strategic goals and objectives that we wish to achieve.
“And the question of sovereignty is
an extremely important one and this is not the first time. You can have
a space for mistakes once. You can have it twice, but you can not have
it, you know, for eight times. These types of engagement are not
acceptable to the Pakistani public. They will certainly not be
acceptable to the parliament of Pakistan and to the government of