Melbourne, Sep 13 : The Pakistan Army has issued orders to retaliate against "invading" US forces that enter the Tribal Areas of the country to attack militant targets.
Pakistani corps commanders issued the order last night. The move has plunged relations between Islamabad and Washington into a deep crisis over how to deal with al-Qaeda and the Taliban
What amounts to a dramatic order to "kill the invaders", as one senior officer put it last night, was disclosed after the commanders - who control the army's deployments at divisional level - met at their headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
The "retaliate and kill" order came amid reports of unprecedented fierce fighting in the Bajaur Agency of Pakistan's tribal areas, an al-Qaeda stronghold frequently mentioned as the most likely lair of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The order to retaliate against incursions by foreign troops is directed specifically at the 120,000 Pakistani soldiers deployed along the border with Afghanistan, and follows US President George W. Bush's authorisation of US attacks in Pakistan.
Washington's determination to launch such attacks has caused outrage across Pakistan, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last night strongly backing a warning by General Ashfaq Kayani that Pakistan would not allow its territorial integrity to be violated.
The "kill" order against invading forces, and the sharp deterioration in relations with the US, has far-reaching implications for the war on terror, The Australian reported.