London, Sept 4 : The killing of 20 people in Wana district of Pakistan's NWFP (North West Frontier Province) has reportedly evoked a strong reaction from a cross section of leaders and senior officials. While some described it as an attack on Pakistan's sovereignty, others said it was a gross violation of Pakistan's territory.
NWFP Governor Owais Ahmed Ghanisaid called for retaliation from Pakistani security forces. "This is a direct assault on the sovereignty of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan expect that the armed forces ... would rise to defend the sovereignty of the country and give a befitting reply," the Guardian quoted him as saying.
The foreign ministry in Islamabad termed the incursion "a gross violation of Pakistan's territory and a grave provocation" which, it said, had resulted in "immense" loss of civilian life.
"Such actions are counterproductive and certainly do not help our joint efforts to fight terrorism. On the contrary, they may fuel the fire of hatred and violence we are trying to extinguish," the paper quoted the foreign ministry as saying in a statement.
A former senior Pakistani official on the condition of anonymity said: "This is a very alarming and very dangerous development. We have absolutely been telling them [the US] not to do this but they ignored us."
Meanwhile, justifying the raid, US and NATO commanders said that Taliban and al-Qaida fighters were using the unruly, semi-autonomous tribal areas of Pakistan to stage attacks on coalition forces inside Afghanistan and create "safe havens" where they were immune from attack. NATO and civilian casualties in Afghanistan had reached record levels in the past 12 months in the face of a spreading Taliban offensive.
This was the first time when US and NATO troops carried out on the ground raid. In the past US forces used only missile-carrying drones to attack militant targets inside Pakistan. But, yesterday's assault, involving up to three helicopters and infantry commandos, marked the first time the fight has been taken directly to the enemy on Pakistani soil.