Islamabad, Sept 17 : America's top military official Adm. Mike Mullen made a hurriedly arranged visit to Pakistan last evening for holding talks about a recent incursion by American commandos based in neighboring Afghanistan.
The visit assumes significance in the wake of strong reactions emanating from Islamabad against the US' raids on its territory, and especially after the Pakistan Army ordered its troops to hit back at US' troops in case of future raids.
Mullen's visit came as an uproar continued to grow in Pakistan about the incursion on Sept. 3, which severely strained relations between the US and Pakistan, its top Muslim ally in the war against terrorism, reported the New York Times.
Admiral Mullen is due to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Pakistan's military chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani later in the day today. "Clearly there are concerns in Pakistan about the American military strikes there and the US Embassy wanted to invite him to get him in to talk to the Pakistani leaders," said an American embassy official.
The visit coincides with conflicting accounts about a possible second American raid on Monday, as well as a warning by the Pakistan military that it would shoot at any foreign forces who crossed the border, added the paper.
Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the Army reserved the right to use force to defend the country and its people, but he said that there was "no change in policy." Asked what the Pakistan military would do if there was a future incursion by American troops, he said: "There is a big if involved. We will see to it when such a situation arises."
The Sept. 3 raid was the first publicly acknowledged operation by American ground forces in Pakistan in the campaign against Taliban and Al Qaeda targets. Previously, allied forces in Afghanistan had occasionally carried out air-strikes and artillery attacks in the border region of Pakistan, and American forces had some latitude to cross the border in "hot pursuit" of militants.
Admiral Mullen flew to Islamabad from Baghdad where he had attended the change-of-command shifting responsibility for the US military Iraq from Gen. David H. Petraeus to Gen. Ray Odierno. The American Embassy in Islamabad requested that Admiral Mullen personally brief Pakistan's civil and military leadership on the American military's activities along the border, the official said.