Qureshi rules out foreign ‘invasion’
* FM urges allies to provide Pakistan with anti-terror equipment
LONDON: Pakistan will not allow foreign troops in the Tribal Areas to target militants allegedly threatening coalition troops in neighbouring Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Thursday.
“Invading FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) is not an option,” Qureshi said in a question and answer session after a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in central London.
“It will not solve any issue. First of all, we are a sovereign country and ... we feel that we have capable troops in Pakistan that can look after peace and security within our territory.”
Qureshi’s comments came as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani prepared to leave for the United States to discuss stepping up efforts against militants launching attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Equipment: Qureshi said that instead of looking to enter Pakistani territory for counter-insurgency operations, its allies could help by providing it with the tools to do the job itself, particularly equipment.
“Those supplies, despite our request, have yet to come our way,” he added, repeating Islamabad’s call for greater co-operation on counter-insurgency efforts from the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“By enhancing our capacity, building our capacity, our troops that are capable can do a much better job. They understand the people, the language, the customs and the traditions. “And no country would tolerate a foreign country coming in and attacking our territory. If that happens it would be very counter-productive. “Coming and invading FATA would be, I think, not a very sensible thing. It would be very counter-productive, and the people of Pakistan would react to it very strongly.”
In his speech Qureshi acknowledged the trans-national threat from extremism, maintaining that the conflict in Afghanistan and the unresolved border dispute with India over Kashmir remained key issues affecting the south Asia region.
In response to questions about Afghanistan and extremism, including within Pakistan, he called on the international community to have more faith in his country to resolve the issue itself.
“What you can do to help is first of all begin to trust us. Believe in what we are saying,” he told the audience of academics, diplomats and reporters, pledging his government’s commitment to root out insurgents. On his visit, Qureshi will hold talks with his British counterpart David Miliband, with the focus on efforts to prevent British Pakistanis from becoming radicalised, a Foreign Office spokeswoman told AFP.
He was also to meet Britain’s Defence Secretary Des Browne, a Defence Ministry spokeswoman added. afp