Mush warns US-led forces against forceful intervention

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Singapore, Jan 11: Warning against any ''unilateral intervention'' in Pakistan by coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan, President Pervez Musharraf has said any such move would be resisted as invasion.

''I challenge anybody coming into our mountains. They would regret that day,'' Gen (retd) Musharraf said. He slammed the US leader's call for US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan to join hands with Pakistani Army to hunt down al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the country's restive tribal region. ''Perception in the United States is (that) what our army cannot do, they can do,'' he told Straits Times in an interview.

He also sought to allay fear among the international community regarding the safety of nuclear assets of Islamabad, saying Pakistan was fully capable to secure them. He particulary reacted to a statement by US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton that Pakistan should place its nuclear weapons under US supervision.

''It was an intrusion into our privacy, into our sensitivity...

She doesn't seem to understand how well-guarded these assets are,'' President Musharraf said.

While replying to queries about domestic politics and elections in the country, one of the longest serving army chiefs of Pakistan said he would resign if a government that emerged from the parliamentary elections scheduled for February 18 sought his impeachment.

Most observers expect a sympathy vote to trigger a landslide for the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), in the wake of its former chief Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

A PPP-only government or a coalition between the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-N could conceivably command the two-thirds majority that the constitution requires for an impeachment process.

President Musharraf reiterated that military action could not, by itself, provide an ultimate solution to the insugency in Afghanistan. ''A solution would come by moving simultaneously on the socio-economic, political and military fronts,'' he said.

''If coalition forces depart without some stable government in place that is strong enough to defend itself, that would affect the stability of the whole region and the world,'' he said.

UNI

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