ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan expressed fear Friday that a large increase in foreign troops in Afghanistan could push militants across the border into its territory and called on the U.S. to factor in that concern as part of its new war strategy.
Meanwhile, a suspected U.S. missile strike killed eight militants in northwestern Pakistan, officials said, the second attack this week in an area believed to hold many insurgents who fled from an army offensive elsewhere in the Afghan border region. American officials generally do not acknowledge the unpopular attacks.
The Pakistani concerns, raised by the prime minister during a meeting with visiting CIA director Leon Panetta, could pose another headache for President Barack Obama as he weighs military proposals to send 10,000 to 40,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan next year.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the United States must fully share its plans for Afghanistan with Pakistan so that it can contribute to them, according to a statement from his office.
Gilani also warned that more troops could push militants across the border.
The U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the CIA director’s visit to the country.
American security and government leaders have frequently visited Pakistan in recent weeks to urge it to do more against militants on its side of the border blamed for violence inside Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials have said in the past that they were worried that Obama’s original surge of 21,000 troops this summer would lead to more militants crossing over into the country, something that has not happened.
Also, U.S. plans to close remote posts near the border and instead focus on larger population centres in Afghanistan have sparked fears that militants will now find it easier to move between the two countries.
Pakistan’s government is under domestic pressure not to be seen simply taking orders from the United States and give the impression it has a say in any new Afghan policy.
As such, Gilani’s statement could have been as much directed at a local audience as to the Americans.
Pakistan’s army launched an offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan in mid-October — an effort welcomed by Washington. It has retaken many towns in the lawless region, but many militants are believed to have fled north to escape the fighting and have retaliated with deadly bombings and clashes.
Four Pakistani soldiers, including a captain, were killed Friday when militants ambushed their convoy in the North Waziristan area of Shawal, local intelligence officials said.
Two police officers also were killed and four others were wounded earlier Friday when a remote-controlled bomb destroyed their vehicle in Peshawar, said city police Chief Liaquat Ali Khan.
The attack occurred hours after a suicide bomber killed 19 people in the city, which is the main gateway to the al-Qaida and Taliban-inhabited border region.
Pakistani officials flagged the offensive in South Waziristan several months before it actually began, which critics say allowed the militants to escape and plan the current wave of terror.
A U.S. drone fired two missiles at a compound being used by suspected Taliban militants in a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, according to two intelligence officials.
Anti-American sentiment is pervasive throughout Pakistan. The Pakistani government publicly condemns the U.S. strikes as violations of its sovereignty, but many analysts believe the two countries have a secret deal allowing them.
Obama, who has been criticized for taking so long to weigh the issue, has promised to announce his decision on Afghanistan over the next several weeks.
Pakistan helped nurture a generation of Islamic militants after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Following the Soviet withdrawal a decade later, Pakistan helped the Taliban seize control. Many of these militants fled to Pakistan after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.