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Pakistani military denies report of NATO incursion into North Waziristan



On May 30, two news organizations, Xinhua and The Nation, published reports claiming that US helicopters had crossed the border from Afghanistan and into Pakistan's tribal agency, captured five Taliban leaders (according to Xinhua) or Haqqani Network leaders (according to The Nation), and brought them back to Afghanistan. In a Threat Matrix post on the two articles, I noted that the reports were not confirmed and were not picked up beyond the two agencies. On May 31, the Inter Services Public Relations, Pakistan's military public affairs branch, issued a press release and categorically denied the report of a US incursion:

A spokesman of ISPR has contradicted a news item published in section of press on 31 May 2011 captioned "NATO Forces violated the air space and has carried out an operation in side Pakistan's territory". There was no violation by any NATO helicopters in North Waziristan Agency, Spokesman concluded.


READER COMMENTS: "Pakistani military denies report of NATO incursion into North Waziristan"

Posted by kp at June 2, 2011 9:24 AM ET:

Interesting. I was expecting this to either be confirmed or to just disappear as another misreported or made-up story.

How often do the ISI go out of their way to deny a story (rather than just ignore it)?

A spokesman of ISPR has contradicted a news item published in section of press on 31 May 2011 captioned “NATO Forces violated the air space and has carried out an operation in side Pakistan‘s territory”. There was no violation by any NATO helicopters in North Waziristan Agency, Spokesman concluded.

Without sounding to much like a "grassy knoll" CTer I note they don't deny a (joint?) raid took place just the airspace violation (which is the important thing for Pakistani PR).

Posted by S.J. at June 2, 2011 6:37 PM ET:

We know that these press reports are often unreliable, and yet we also know that a statement from the Pakistani authorities is also not necessarily true. It leaves me no less wondering if this actually happened or not.

Posted by Bill Roggio at June 2, 2011 6:49 PM ET:

S.J.

You hit the nail on the head. The inherent problems you mentioned are enough put a logic chip in an infinite loop and fry it.

My gut tells me this didn't happen. These types of ops are too difficult to hide. And we haven't heard a peep from the Taliban/Haqqanis, who would have screamed heads off by now.

Posted by S.J. at June 2, 2011 10:59 PM ET:

Thanks for the reply, Bill. Been reading your work here daily for years. You do great work and a great service to those of us who want to know what's going on in these wars.

Posted by kp at June 2, 2011 11:18 PM ET:

I'm more on the side of "a one-sided raid probably didn't happen" given the state of US/Pakistani relations an incursion like this (without notice) would have really annoyed that Pakistani's and made it difficult to work with us IN PUBLIC.

That said I could see us doing this for any of Top 5 on the list we have given to the Pakistanis. And Siraj is on the list.

I could also see use carrying out the raid after telling the Pakistanis (so it becomes joint even if the Pak Army aren't actually there) especially if it was very time sensitive ("SH is at this location now and is expected to be there for the next hour").

It does leave the question of what did the people who reported it see? I still think that there is a chance that something happened.

That said it's a better denial than the Media Wing of the ISI gave for the journalist's death. No veiled threats mixed in.