The Pakistani military dismissed the US military’s investigation into the cross-border incident that killed 24 Pakistani troops in the Mohmand tribal agency late last November, and accused the US military of intentionally attacking the troops and attempting to cover it up.
The Pakistani military issued a formal report today that attempts to rebut the investigation conducted by Brigadier General Stephen Clark, which was released on Dec. 22, 2011. Clark was assigned to determine the cause of the clash that resulted in the deaths 24 Pakistani officers and soldiers during airstrikes in the Mohmand tribal agency on the night of Nov. 25-26. Pakistan refused to cooperate with Clark’s investigation.
The US report said that Pakistani troops first opened fire with mortar and machine-gun fire, provoking a US response. A series of mistakes by both ISAF and Pakistani troops as well as mutual distrust between the parties led to the deadly firefight, Clark’s investigation concluded.
The Pakistani military’s response, which was released today at the military’s public relations website, called Clark’s report “factually not correct” and accused the US military of intentionally killing Pakistani troops in an “unprovoked attack.”
“It is highly improbable that such a large number of mistakes (as acknowledged in the US Investigation Report) could have been coincidental,” the Pakistani military said in one of its conclusions.
The Pakistani military said the US investigation into the “unprovoked attack” was an attempt to “contort the facts and confuse the issue.”
“Not only was the response, not in self defence, it was disproportionate, excessive and sustained which resulted in death of 24 soldiers while 13 sustained injuries,” the Pakistani report stated. “The unprovoked engagement thus left behind 7 widows and 16 orphans.”
“Sustained aggression which continued for as long as ’90 minutes’ despite US / ISAF being informed about the incident at multiple levels by Pakistan Military within minutes of initiation of US / ISAF fire, belies the ‘self defence’ and ‘proportional use of force’ contention,” another of the report’s conclusions stated.
Additionally the Pakistani military accused Clark’s report of intentionally manufacturing evidence of Pakistani military uniforms that were found during the raid on the Afghan village where the clash took place.
“To justify the grave US / ISAF excesses committed on the night of 25/26 November, the Investigation Report tries to contort the facts and confuse the issue,” the Pakistani report said.
“Moreover, reports of discovery of Pakistani Law Enforcement Agencies uniforms from Maya Village after the end of Operation SAYAQA is an unconvincing attempt to cover the US / ISAF attacks by giving a misleading impression that Pakistani soldiers on Volcano and Boulder posts may well have been mistaken by US / ISAF to be anyone else,” the report stated later.
The Pakistani military also denied one of the key assertions made by the US – that Pakistani forces first opened fire on US and Afghan troops inside Afghanistan. Instead, the Pakistani military claimed the Pakistani troops “were defending against an unprovoked attack.”
“In an effort to provide justification for US / ISAF actions, the Investigation Report has gone to extreme lengths to construct the whole incident as an act of ‘self defence’ and the force used by US / ISAF / NATO as legal and proportionate,” the Pakistani report stated. “At no stage did the Pakistani Posts fire on, or in the direction of the Helicopter Landing Zone or the route from Helicopter Landing Zone to Maya Village.”
In the final conclusion, Pakistan refused to accept any responsibility for what happened in Mohmand, and instead said the US and ISAF are fully to blame.
“There have clearly been several failures on the part of US / ISAF / NATO (as acknowledged in the US Investigation Report),” the report concluded. “Trying to affix partial responsibility of the incident on Pakistan is, therefore, unjustified and unacceptable.”
The Pakistani report is sure to further sour US/Pakistan relations, which are at an all-time low since the Mohmand clash. Pakistan closed down NATO’s supply routes for Afghanistan; ejected the US from the Shamsi Air Base, where drone strikes against al Qaeda were staged; and has said it is reevaluating its cooperation with the US in the War on Terror. The US placed the drone program on hold for 55 days before targeting al Qaeda on Jan. 11. There have been two other strikes since.