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Pakistan official calls NATO airstrike 'blatant aggression'

The Pakistanis said they needed time to check and asked for coordinates. Seven minutes later, the sergeant called back and said “your Volcano post has been hit,” Nadeem quoted the sergeant as saying.

Nadeem concluded that confirmed NATO knew the locations of the Pakistani posts before attacking, said The News.

Reinvigorated Military

The NATO attack shifted attention away from Pakistan's widely questioned performance against militants who cross its border to attack U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, and has given the military a chance to reassert itself. Islamabad's decision to boycott next week's meeting in Bonn will deprive the talks of a key player that could nudge Taliban militants into a peace process as NATO combat troops prepare to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday Pakistan's decision to boycott the conference was “regrettable” but hoped to secure Islamabad's cooperation in future.

“Nothing will be gained by turning our backs on mutually beneficial cooperation,” Clinton told reporters in South Korea.

The army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history and sets security and foreign policy, faced strong criticism from both the Pakistani public and its ally, the United States, after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The al-Qaida leader had apparently been living in a Pakistani garrison town for years before U.S. special forces found and killed him in a unilateral raid in May.

Pakistanis criticized the military for failing to protect their sovereignty, and angry U.S. officials wondered whether some members of military intelligence had sheltered him. Pakistan's government and military said they had no idea bin Laden was in the country.

The army seems to have regained its confidence, and won the support of the public and the government in a country where anti-American sentiment runs high even on rare occasions when relations with Washington are healthy.

More than 1,000 students from a hard-line Pakistani religious party protested in Lahore, yelling “Death to NATO” and “Death to America.”

“If NATO and America do something like this again, we are going to turn Pakistan into their graveyard,” said 23-year-old university student Zahoor Ahmad.

History student Mudassir Durrani said: “This attack is a slap in the faces of the Pakistanis who support America. It is time for secular and religious forces to come together to fight America.”

NATO hopes an investigation it promised will defuse the crisis and that confidence-building measures can repair ties.

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 Pakistan official calls NATO airstrike 'blatant aggression' 
Pakistanis burn a U.S. flag during a protest in Islamabad on Wednesday, Nov. 30 against the cross-border NATO airstrike on Pakistani troops. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led calls on Pakistan to reconsider boycotting talks on Afghanistan, but stopped short of apologizing for the deaths of 24 soldiers in NATO strikes.

(AFP)

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