A NATO COUNTER AGAINST PAKISTANI SUPPORT TO AFGHAN TALIBAN
Pakistan protests Afghan cross-border attack
* Afghan diplomat summoned, presented with 'strong protest'
* Raja Pervez says he will take up issue with Karzai
* Military official says seven soldiers 'beheaded'
ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR/ KARACHI: Pakistan on Monday lodged a strong protest with Afghanistan and NATO over Sunday's intrusion of militants from the Afghan side, killing at least six Pakistani soldiers in Upper Dir.
Pakistan's Foreign Office and military reacted over the incidents of attacking Pakistani forces from Afghan side on Sunday and Monday.
About 100 militants from across the border had entered Dir and clashed with a Pakistani security forces patrol, officials said. Two security checkposts near the Pak-Afghan border in Barawal, Upper Dir district were also targeted, they said.
According to the officials, deputy head of the Afghan Mission in Islamabad, Musa Arifi, was called to the Foreign Office and a strong protest was lodged over the militants' intrusion from the Afghan side. "In the exchange of fire, 11 militants were killed while six security forces personnel embraced shahadat and 11 soldiers are missing," they said. "Out of whom seven soldiers have been reportedly killed and beheaded," the sources added.
The Afghan diplomat was told that the government of Afghanistan should take appropriate measures to prevent recurrence of similar incidents in the future. Commenting on the issue, Afghanistan's Ambassador in Pakistan Umer Daudzai told Daily Times that terrorism was a common enemy of the two countries. "We don't want confrontation with our brother country like Pakistan, which is a neighbouring country."
Earlier, Afghan embassy's spokesman Zardasht Shams told Daily Times that Kabul was informed of Islamabad's protest and its reservations were conveyed. The enemy through such incidents wanted to damage Pakistan-Afghanistan ties as such attempts were launched in the past as well, he added. "We understand that Pakistan and Afghanistan would jointly bust such nefarious designs."
Military sources said Pakistan protested with NATO and Afghan forces for not taking action against militant safe havens in Afghanistan near the bordering area.
Official sources said the Pakistan Army lodged a protest with their counterparts across the border after miscreants fired rockets in Lower Dir followed by sniper fire into Pakistan's Tripaman heights area on Monday. "This incident on Monday followed the Sunday intrusion," the official sources said.
The sources added that the Pakistan Army leadership would also raise the issue with ISAF commander General John Allen, who is likely to visit Pakistan on Wednesday. He will call on Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani. The interaction will focus on reviewing progress made in implementation of the recently evolved border coordination measures/standing operating procedures.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Malakand chapter of the Taliban claimed responsibility for the militant attack in Upper Dir and threatened of more attacks.
"Our fight will continue until the establishment of Shariah law in Pakistan... We will fight whoever tries to stand in our way," Sirajuddin Ahmad, the faction's spokesman, told Reuters.
Ahmad said the group had killed 17 Pakistani soldiers in Sunday's attack.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan said it was aware of the report, but had no information. On the other hand, Fazlullah Wahidi, governor of Kunar province, said the militants were based in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. "We don't have any information about militants crossing the border from Afghanistan to attack troops in Pakistan," he told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Monday condemned cross-border attacks from Afghanistan and said he would discuss the matter with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "Pakistan has strongly protested with Afghanistan on the cross-border attacks and I will also take up this issue with Karzai," Raja told reporters in Karachi. However, his office did not elaborate on when such a conversation might take place. staff report/agencies