Pakistan simmers over soldiers' deaths

2011-11-28 11:04
Islamabad – The US is striving to limit the fallout from a deadly Nato air raid on Pakistani border troops, but reports the soldiers opened fire first on US and Afghan forces risked stoking new tensions.

Pakistan is simmering over the killings of the 24 soldiers, with fiery weekend protests denouncing the assault by Nato helicopters and fighter jets on two military posts on the Afghan border early on Saturday.

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.

Pakistan retaliates

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

In retaliation for the raid, Islamabad has 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 Sunday, 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.

Pakistan says the attack was unprovoked.

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

But a report in Monday's Wall Street Journal - denied by Islamabad - said the NATO jets and helicopters responded to firing from a Pakistani post on the ill-defined Afghan border.

The article, which followed a similar report by Britain's Guardian newspaper, cited three Afghan officials and one Western official as saying the air raid was called in to shield allied forces targeting Taliban fighters.

Nato and Afghan forces "were fired on from a Pakistani army base", the unnamed Western official told the Wall Street Journal. "It was a defensive action."

Osama bin Laden killing

An Afghan official in Kabul was quoted as saying: "There was firing coming from the position against Afghan army soldiers who requested support and this is what happened."

The official added that the government in Kabul believes the fire came from the Pakistani military base - and not from insurgents in the area.

There was no official US response to the report.

The latest tensions have erupted months after the fraught US-Pakistan alliance was plunged into crisis by the killing in May of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden north of Islamabad by US special forces.

On the Fox News Sunday talk show, US lawmakers vented frustration over Pakistan, with Republican Senator Jon Kyl demanding Islamabad co-operate with the US in order to maintain billions of dollars in financial aid.

Senator Dick Durbin, a top Democrat, offered condolences but said US soldiers were caught in a "diplomatic morass between the incompetence and corruption in Afghanistan, and complicity in parts of Pakistan".

But John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations who was a hawkish foreign policy advisor to president George W Bush, laid bare the dilemma for Washington in handling nuclear-armed Pakistan.

"While it is tempting for many people to say we ought to throw the Pakistanis over the side and stop giving them aid... as long as that country has nuclear weapons that could fall into the hands of radicals and be a threat worldwide, they have incredible leverage," he said.

The US in 2009 approved a huge five-year, $7.5bn civilian assistance package for Pakistan, but some US lawmakers want to cut civilian aid due to concerns over extremism.
- SAPA
Read more on:    nato  |  us  |  pakistan  |  security
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
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

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

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers 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

Be open, network and share your intentions and ideas as these may be the vital seeds to the imminent change that can be starting...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.