Nato regrets lethal Pakistan strike

2011-11-27 20:41
Islamabad - Nato expressed regret on Sunday over air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers as the United States sought to repair relations with Islamabad, plunged into fresh crisis over the lethal attack.

Pakistan reacted with fury over the killings of two dozen soldiers, widely interpreted in the local media as a "deliberate" assault by Nato helicopters and fighter jets on two military posts on the Afghan border early on Saturday.

Islamabad conveyed its anger to the United States, blocked Nato convoys from crossing into Afghanistan, ordered a review of its alliance with the US and mulled whether to boycott a key conference on Afghanistan next month.

Hundreds of enraged Pakistanis took to the streets, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and setting fire to US flags across the country of 167 million where opposition to the government's US alliance is rampant.

At the largest rally, attended by 700 people outside the US consulate in the port city of Karachi, protestors shouted "stay away Americans, Pakistan is ours, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our army".

The United States, which depends on Pakistan as a vital lifeline to supply 130 000 foreign troops fighting in landlocked Afghanistan, on Sunday scrambled to salvage the alliance, backing a full inquiry and expressing condolences.

Nato also sought to soothe Islamabad's rage, but stopped short of issuing a full apology to Pakistan for the "tragic, unintended" killings.

A Western official said allies were trying to ascertain "exactly" what Pakistan's public position meant and to prevent lasting damage as a result of the suspended supply lines into Afghanistan.

Tragic unintended incident

It also remains unclear exactly what happened in the early hours of Saturday in Pakistan's tribal district of Mohmand.

Investigators are to examine whether Afghan and American troops along the border may have been fired upon first - whether by insurgents or soldiers - and to what extent their operation was co-ordinated with Pakistan.

Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued a statement, saying he had written to Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

"I have written... to make it clear that the deaths of Pakistani personnel are as unacceptable and deplorable as the deaths of Afghan and international personnel," he said. "This was a tragic unintended incident."

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar earlier telephoned US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to convey a "deep sense of rage" as a joint funeral was held for the dead soldiers, their coffins draped in the national flag.

Khar said attacks on military outposts were "totally unacceptable", contravened international law and violated Pakistani sovereignty.

She spoke to Clinton to inform her of Pakistan's response, formulated at an emergency meeting of cabinet ministers and military chiefs, saying that Pakistan was forced "to revisit the terms of engagement".

Pakistan said its attendance at a conference of more than 90 delegations due in Germany on December 5 was "being examined", although a boycott is considered unlikely given how much Pakistan stands to lose by not attending.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Clinton offered their "deepest condolences" and backed "Nato's intention to investigate immediately".

Unmarked border

They stressed the importance of the US-Pakistani partnership and pledged to remain in close contact with Pakistan "through this challenging time".

Pakistan's army chief Ashfaq Kayani, who had hosted the US commander in Afghanistan for talks on co-ordination only one day before the attack, led the mourners in funeral prayers in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

In September 2010, Pakistan also shut the main land route for Nato supplies at Torkham for 11 days after accusing Nato of killing three Pakistani troops.

The border was reopened after the United States formally apologised and most commentators expect the latest crisis to be resolved similarly.

The fact that Pakistan also ordered the United States to leave the Shamsi air base, reportedly used as a hub for US drone strikes on militants, was also interpreted as a sign of Islamabad's relatively limited options.

Pakistan, which depends on billions of dollars in US aid, has made similar demands in the past and there have been reports that American personnel already left the secretive base, southwest of Islamabad, earlier this year.

Nato troops frequently carry out operations against Taliban insurgents close to the border with Pakistan, which in many places is unmarked, as Pakistani troops also wrestle with putting down a home grown Taliban insurgency.

Afghan and US officials have frequently accused Pakistani troops at worst of colluding with the Taliban or at best of standing by while insurgents fire across the border, often in clear sight of Pakistani border posts.

Read more on:    taliban  |  nato  |  pakistan
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Cape Town 07:10 AM
Road name: N1 Inbound

SLOW TRAFFIC approaching the M5 Koeberg Interchange

Langa 07:06 AM
Road name: N7 Vanguard Drive Northbound

DELAYS between Klipfontein Road and Jakkalsvlei Avenue

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 30% off top fragrances

Get mind blowing savings on selected fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today you may want to bond with your children and need to connect to your imaginative and playful side. It may be that you are...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.