Following a couple of very high-profile attacks on suspected terrorists into Pakistan in recent days - both of which the Pakistanis say hit civilians instead - the Pakistani military has said it reserves the right to strike back.
General Tariq Majid, chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, said cross-border strikes such as the one on Wednesday would alienate ethnic Pashtuns, who live on both sides of the border, and be counter-productive. "Pakistan reserves the right to appropriately retaliate," he told visiting German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung.
Growing Pakistani hostility to their nation's role in the US-led "war on terror" isn't just confined to the military, and may well be the reason behind a hurried top-level conference aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday. Participants included Admiral Mullen, General Petraeus and Pakistan's military chief, General Kiyani.
“The meeting was mainly to continue to discuss ongoing operations against extremists in the border region and to work together to find better ways to solve those problems,” said one American military official who was briefed on the talks. Admiral Mullen met with General Kayani just a month ago in Islamabad, Pakistan. It was then that this week’s meeting was scheduled, the military official said. In Islamabad, he said, Admiral Mullen had bluntly warned General Kayani that Pakistan had to do more to combat militants in the restive tribal areas. The gathering aboard the Abraham Lincoln was less confrontational in tone, aides said. “It was one of those meetings to help clear up the situation, get an understanding of the issues, and look for a way forward,” said a senior Pakistani officer briefed on the discussions. Military officials from both countries declined to say whether commanders had reached any new agreement to allow American Special Operations forces greater access to Pakistan’s tribal areas to conduct missions to kill or capture top leaders of Al Qaeda who have found sanctuary there.
I find myself wondering if the threat to retaliate caused that new, less confrontational, tone. The Pakistani threat to take up arms against it's allies - and that really is a shocking development - should change everyone's gameplan, and it will be interesting to see if that filters through to the policy statements of the presidential candidates.
(Meanwhile, Condi Rice is hailing the election of a mad, corrupt politician with with no previous executive experience as the new Pakistani president. She told reporters "I'm looking forward to working with him". Go figure.)
CNN's Becky Anderson leads a roundtable discussion about security on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.