ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) – The government dispatched defense officials to Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and told the U.S. military not to enter its territory without permission, the Pakistani defense minister said yesterday, a week after a borderland skirmish that involved American troops.
At the same time, though, Rao Sikandar Iqbal pledged continuing cooperation with American forces in fighting terrorism and the effort to apprehend fleeing al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives in eastern Afghanistan.
Iqbal said his defense officials met representatives of the U.S. military Sunday at the remote region of Angore Adda in the rugged borderland of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.
“The U.S. troops have been clearly told that next time there will be no violation from their sides, and that they will not cross our border from Afghanistan,” Iqbal told The Associated Press.
The defense minister’s comments came a day after Pakistan said it wants to avoid any repeats of a skirmish with the U.S. troops near the Afghan border last month and will cooperate more closely to prevent miscommunication.
On Dec. 29, a Pakistani border guard shot and wounded an American soldier in the head in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province, just a few hundred yards from Pakistan’s border. The shooting prompted U.S. forces to call in an airstrike on a building where the guard was believed hiding.
The U.S. military said the building it hit was inside Afghanistan. Islamabad says one bomb landed on its side of the border; it is still investigating the matter.
The situation grew more tense when Pakistan dispatched extra troops to the border after the United States said it reserved the right to cross into Pakistan in hot pursuit of enemy fighters fleeing from Afghanistan.
In the border meeting Sunday, both sides were conciliatory and agreed to improve an intelligence-sharing system they hope will make their joint operations “more effective and successful,” Iqbal said.
“We are cooperating with the United States in the war against terrorism because we are against all forms of terrorism,” he said. “Of course this cooperation will continue.”
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri will visit Washington in the coming weeks to discuss “issues of mutual interests,” ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said yesterday. Khan said the dates for such a trip had not been worked out.