ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan warned America Thursday of "disastrous consequences" if it carries out any more unauthorized raids against suspected terrorists like the one that killed Osama bin Laden.
However, the government in Islamabad stopped short of labeling Monday's helicopter raid on bin Laden's compound not far from the capital Islamabad as an illegal operation and insisted relations between Washington and Islamabad remain on course.
The army and the government have come under criticism domestically for allowing the country's sovereignty to be violated. Some critics have expressed doubts about government claims that it was not aware of the raid until after it was over.
Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir's remarks seemed to be aimed chiefly at addressing that criticism.
"The Pakistan security forces are neither incompetent nor negligent about their sacred duty to protect Pakistan," he told reporters. "There shall not be any doubt that any repetition of such an act will have disastrous consequences," he said.
Bashir repeated Pakistani claims that it did not know anything about the raid until it was too late to stop it. He said the army scrambled two F-16 fighter jets when it was aware that foreign helicopters were hovering over the city of Abbottabad, but they apparently did not get to the choppers on time.
American officials have said they didn't inform Pakistan in advance, fearing bin Laden could be tipped off.
Asked whether it was illegal, Bashir said only "that is for historians to judge."
The fact that bin Laden was hiding in a large house close to an army academy in a garrison town two hours drive from the capital has led to international allegations that sections of Pakistan's security forces may have been harboring bin Laden.
Pakistan has firmly denied those charges, but failed to explain how it did not know. Bashir said there were no plans for an investigation.
Some U.S. lawmakers have called for the Obama administration to stop giving aid to Pakistan. But the president and other top American officials have appeared more cautious, realizing that downgrading or severing ties with the country would be risky given the important role it will likely play in negotiating an end to the Afghan War.
Bashir said perceptions that Pakistan's ties with Islamabad were at rock bottom were untrue.
"We acknowledge the United States is an important friend," he said. "Basically Pakistan and U.S. relations are moving in the right direction."