Pakistan may discontinue its support of the U.S.-led war on terrorism if its sovereignty is violated again, a top official said Thursday in the latest sign of the country's continuing outrage over a deadly NATO airstrike on a Pakistani military outpost last week.
"Enough is enough. The government will not tolerate any incident of spilling even a single drop of any civilian or soldier's blood," Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told Pakistan lawmakers, according to The News newspaper.
"Pakistan's role in the war on terror must not be overlooked," Khar said.
Twenty-four Pakistani soldiers died Saturday after a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol called in an airstrike along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. NATO is investigating the apparent friendly fire incident, but the two sides have differed over the sequence of events. The NATO force reported coming under fire before requesting the strike, and a preliminary U.S. military report suggests Taliban fighters may have lured the coalition patrol into the area.
Pakistani officials have insisted the attack was unprovoked. Officials also claim the strikes continued for two hours despite alerting NATO that it was targeting the outpost.
American and NATO officials have expressed sympathy over the deaths, saying the incident was a mistake. The border area is infested with militants, whom NATO has long complained receive safe haven on the Pakistan side to launch attacks in Afghanistan.
The border incident has greatly strengthened anti-American sentiment, reducing the political space for those who argue that cooperation with Washington is in the country's interest. The army, which has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid since 2001 in exchange for its cooperation, however limited, against militants, has fueled the hard line by accusing NATO of a "deliberate act of aggression."