Raghagan (Pak), Sept 27 : Members of the Pashtun tribe in Pakistan's tribal areas have given stern warnings to the US forces that they should desist from incursions on Pakistani soil, else they would retaliate giving a befitting reply and killing any invader till death.
The tribesmen told this to the reporters who were taken to the Pashtun tribal fighters in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan in a bid to show the Pakistan Army had the support of locals for a month-long operation in the area, said to be an Al-Qaeda and Taliban hotspot. The tribesmen sent out a strong message against the US. "We will fight against America until the last soul if they come to our country. For us, the Taliban, NATO and the United States are all equals," said Malik Manasib Khan, the leader of a tribal force. For centuries together, these fiercely independent and religiously conservative tribes along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have repelled all invaders, and still hold the key to stability in the region. When thousands of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants fled the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the tribes sheltered them, viewing them as successors of the 'mujahedeen' who fought the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan in the 1980s. In 2003, Islamabad launched army operations at Washington's behest in the tribal belt, especially the notorious Waziristan area, but civilian deaths helped to radicalise and fire up many more tribesmen against the government. Pakistani authorities have in recent years made major efforts to win the support of leading tribesmen in a bid to drive out foreign Al-Qaeda militants and isolate the most hardcore Taliban commanders. Yet that policy - combined with US and Afghan suspicions that elements in Pakistan's intelligence agencies still back the Taliban - has caused tensions with Washington, which wants Islamabad to launch an all-out offensive.