Pakistan: More unilateral action by US will trigger 'disastrous consequences'

Pakistan: More unilateral action by US will trigger 'disastrous consequences'

Pakistan has warned America of the "disastrous consequences" if it carries out any other unilateral raids against suspected terrorists in its country.

The Pakistani army and the government have been criticised for Monday's raid on the compound of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, with many angry over the violation of the country's sovereignty and doubtful of government claims it was not aware of the raid.

Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said today "there shall not be any doubt that any repetition of such an act will have disastrous consequences".

But Bashir declined to say whether the American raid was illegal and said relations between Pakistan and the United States remained on course, suggesting his comments were mostly aimed for domestic consumption.

"The Pakistan security forces are neither incompetent nor negligent about their sacred duty to protect Pakistan," Bashir said. "There shall not be any doubt that any repetition of such an act will have disastrous consequences," he said.

Bashir repeated Pakistani claims that it did not know anything about the raid until it was too late to stop it. He said the army scrambled two F-16 fighter jets when it was aware that foreign helicopters were hovering over the city of Abbottabad, but they apparently did not get to the helicopters on time.

American officials have said they did not inform Pakistan in advance, fearing bin Laden could be tipped off.

Asked whether it was illegal, Bashir said only "that is for historians to judge".

The fact that bin Laden was hiding in a large house close to an army academy in a garrison town two hours drive from the capital has led to international allegations that sections of Pakistan's security forces may have been harbouring bin Laden.

Pakistan has firmly denied those charges, but failed to explain how it did not know. Bashir said there were no plans for an investigation.

Some US lawmakers have called for the Obama administration to stop giving aid to Pakistan.

But the president and other top American officials have appeared more cautious, realising that downgrading or severing ties with the country would be risky given the important role it will likely play in negotiating an end to the Afghan War.

Bashir said perceptions that Pakistan's ties with the US were at rock bottom were untrue.

"We acknowledge the United States is an important friend," he said. "Basically Pakistan and US relations are moving in the right direction."

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