Pakistan’s tribes threaten to join Taliban

Quqnoos – Pakistan’s tribes threaten to join Taliban

Pakistan’s tribesmen, reacting to a missile strike in North Waziristan and an earlier cross-border ground assault by US forces last week, said it would switch sides and join the Taliban unless Washington halted its attacks.

“If America doesn’t stop attacks in tribal areas, we will prepare a lashkar [army] to attack US forces in Afghanistan,” tribal chief Malik Nasrullah said in Miran Shah, north Waziristan’s largest city, during an emergency meeting on Saturday. “We will also seek support from the tribal elders in Afghanistan to fight jointly against America.”

The tribesmen represent about 500,000 people in the region. People in Pakistan’s tribal areas, along the border with Afghanistan, have reacted furiously to the US army’s cross-border attacks and unprecedented ground assaults in the area.

Last week, officials admitted to an American newspaper that President Bush had authorised US troops to cross into Pakistan to attack terrorist bases in the tribal areas. Pakistan’s President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani said in a joint statement at the weekend: “The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country should be respected at all cost.”

During the past month, there have been seven US missile strikes in the tribal area, about the same number as in the whole of last year.

A US ground assault in South Waziristan provoked a sharp rebuke from the Pakistan army, who said it had the right to retaliate if America continued with the attacks.

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