Mullen's unscheduled trip comes as new reports emerged
Tuesday that Pakistani troops have been directed to open fire if the U.S.
military launches another raid along the Afghan border.
Mullen will "meet with Prime Minister (Yousaf Raza)
Gilani and the chief of army staff, General (Ashfaq) Kayani, to continue the
dialogue that they have been maintaining and to look for ways to work better
and more closely together to eliminate the safe havens for extremists in the
border region," Navy Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for the chairman of the
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said according to Reuters.
Pakistani Army Maj.-Gen. Athar Abbas said the orders were in
response to U.S. helicopters ferrying troops into the territory of South
Waziristan, a known Taliban stronghold, on Sept. 3.
"The orders are clear," Abbas told the Associated
Press. "In case it happens again in this form, that there is a very
significant detection, which is very definite, no ambiguity, across the border,
on ground or in the air: ... open fire."
A Pentagon spokesman later voiced confidence that Islamabad
will "correct the record" on the statement.
Following reports of the Sept. 3 raid, Pakistan's military
chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said that his forces would not tolerate such
incursions and would defend the country's sovereignty "at all costs,"
according to the New York Times.
Last week, the Times reported that President Bush had signed
a secret order approving the deployment of U.S. forces in Pakistan without the
approval of Islamabad. The administration did not deny the report.
Pakistan's civilian leaders protested the raid but say the
dispute should be resolved through diplomatic channels.
U.S. military commanders have accused Islamabad of doing too
little to prevent the Taliban and other militant groups from recruiting,
training and resupplying in Pakistan's virtually lawless border lands known as
the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Pakistan acknowledges the presence of al-Qaida fugitives and
its difficulties in preventing militants from seeping through the mountainous
border into Afghanistan. However, it insists it is doing all it can while paying
a heavy price, pointing to its deployment of more than 100,000 troops in its
increasingly violent northwest and a wave of suicide bombings across the
Abbas' remarks come a day after Pakistani troops were
reported to have fired shots into the air to stop U.S. troops crossing into
South Waziristan. Both armies - and the Pentagon - denied the incident had
occurred, but local security officials and tribesmen in South Waziristan told
McClatchy Newspapers that two American helicopters had entered Pakistani
airspace early Monday and were forced to retreat when they came under fire.
Earlier this month, U.S. choppers flew in commandos who
assaulted a compound that housed suspected militants, in the first documented
American ground raid into the tribal territory. Up to 20 people, including
civilians, died in the earlier attack, enraging the Pakistani army and public.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Pakistan
declared its support for Washington's war on terror and allowed a limited
number of U.S. troops onto Pakistani territory during the invasion of Taliban-led
Afghanistan. The move was hugely unpopular with many Pakistanis, and analysts
said anti-American feeling in the mainly Muslim country of 170 million people
has grown ever since.