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Pakistani forces ordered to ‘open fire’ on US forces crossing the border

The Pakistani military has been given orders to “open fire” on US troops crossing the border from Afghanistan to attack Taliban and al Qaeda safe havens, the military’s spokesman said. The order comes one day after Pakistani troops reportedly fired on US helicopters as they attempted to cross the border in South Waziristan.

The order to target US troops crossing the border was communicated by Major General Athar Abbas, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military.

“The orders are clear,” Abbas told The Associated Press. “In case it happens again in this form, that there is a very significant detection, which is very definite, no ambiguity, across the border, on ground or in the air: open fire.”

Abbas later backtracked on his statement in an interview with the BBC. “He stressed to the BBC that no specific orders had been given to open fire if US troops crossed the border from Afghanistan,” the BBC reported. Pentagon spokesman Brian Whitman told the AP that Pakistan would “correct the record” on the order to fire on US forces. No subsequent statements have been made by the Pakistani military.

The order to fire on US forces is the latest measure by Pakistan to protest recent attacks by the US inside its territory. Pakistan closed the vital Torkham border crossing into Afghanistan to NATO traffic on Sept. 6 to send a message to the US, Mukhtar said. The crossing was reopened the next day. The Pakistani Air Force is said to have begun to patrol the tribal areas over the weekend.

Today’s statements come one day after a reported incident along the Pakistani border in South Waziristan. Pakistani troops reportedly fired on two US helicopters as they attempted to cross the border near Angoor Adda in South Waziristan. The Pakistani military made conflicting statements on the incident, with some officers claiming “local tribesmen” opened fired and others claiming the military participated.

The US military denied any incursion occurred. “I’ve checked into that and find it to be a spurious report,” Whitman said in a press conference on Sept. 14. “Did not happen. I’ve checked all the places that would know about something like that and it doesn’t appear to be accurate.”

But Whitman’s statements amounted to a personal denial of not being able to find out about the incident. “(I) cannot find any mission that correlates to the report I saw out of Pakistan,” Whitman said, according to Reuters. “I can’t find any (military) report of helicopters being fired upon.”

US military and intelligence sources contacted by The Long War Journal refused to comment on yesterday’s incident.

The US has stepped up attack in Pakistan’s tribal areas this year after the Taliban and al Qaeda consolidated control in the tribal regions and settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. There have been eight recorded cross-border strikes since Aug. 31. There have been 16 recorded cross-border attacks in Pakistan in 2008, compared to 10 strikes during 2006 and 2007 combined.

Three senior al Qaeda leaders have been killed in the attacks. The Haqqani Network, the powerful al Qaeda and Taliban-linked group run by Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani, has been heavily targeted as well.

Bill Roggio :Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

View Comments (13)

  • This has got to be a first. An ally telling their troops to open fire on another ally whose troops are chasing and killing the enemy. Or is the Taliban/AQ really the pak's enemy? Let's see what happens on this one.

  • Posturing pure and simple.
    A.) Tough talk to Paki papers but backtracking and denials when the BBC asked to verify the comment.
    B.) I have a hard time believing the SOF route would fly over an outpost. Even if we did trust the Paki military, wouldn't you assume that Taliban AQ eyes are on that position 24/7? If so, why fly anywhere near it?
    I highly doubt this occurred. This is a PR move by an unpopular government and a new administration.

  • The connection between the Pakistani response to these cross-border missions and the closing of the Khyber Pass border crossing to NATO freight is the most troubling aspect.
    It seems that such anti-US, anti-Coalition moves play pretty well with the Pakistani electorate. In the NWFP (obviously), and also in the major cities of the Indus Valley, where most people live.
    And cheap, popular moves are going to be popular with a weak government with a host of its own problems.
    What if Pakistan really closed the Khyber Pass route to Kabul? And, for consistency's sake, the route through Baluchistan, as well? And revoked the right of Coalition aircraft to use Pakistani airspace?
    Would it be logistically possible to maintain the Coalition's presence in Afghanistan at its present level?
    For air access from the Indian Ocean, there's only Pakistan and Iran.
    For land access from the north, there is Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
    Pakistan no doubt likes American aid. They (at least parts of the military, e.g. the ISI) seem rather less enthused with the Western project in Afghanistan.
    At first glance (and without deep knowledge of the politics of this part of South Asia), the Pakistani military seems to hold the strong hand in this particular game of poker.

  • If Pakistan threatens to cut off our land based logistical supply line, it may be time to consider using HALO insertion of SOF and/or direct aerial bombardment by stealth B2 bombers. All predicated on good intel of course.

  • What about a strategy that sets the conditions for U.S. aid to Pak as follows:
    1. Designate a DMZ between Afghanistan and Pakistan where intrusions are subject to attack.
    2. Paks would guarantee safety of shipments into Afghanistan.
    3. Militant training camps would be subject to bombardment (stealth or other means)
    4. Pak government would declare al Qaeda and Taleban as banned groups in Pakistan.
    I'm sure there could be other more effective conditions, but at least Pakistan would understand the PRICE of continuing to harbor terrorists.
    These terms, apparently in the current political climate, would no doubt be rejected by the Paks. But if no terms are set, what purpose does aid to this dysfunctional government serve?

  • Despite what the Pakistani General said, the U.S. still appears intent on carrying the fight to the Taliban/al Qaeda.

    A U.S. drone aircraft missile attack targeting a militant camp in Pakistan killed at least four people and wounded three, a Pakistani intelligence official in the South Waziristan region said.
    Officials said the drone fired four missiles as dusk fell on Baghar, a village in the mountains 55 km (35 miles) west of Wana, the main town in the region.
    Foreigners were among the fighters staying in the tents by the spring that runs through Baghar.

    Reuters: U.S. strike kills at least 4 in Pakistan-source

  • Hmm. Was the Pakistani General talking out of both sides of his mouth?

    A U.S. drone aircraft missile strike that killed five militants and destroyed a container of arms and ammunition on Wednesday was the result of U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sharing, a senior Pakistani official said.
    "It shows improving intelligence coordination on the ground," said the official, who had knowledge of the operation and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

    Reuters: Pakistan helps U.S. set up missile strike-source

  • I guess Pakistani General Kayani is only concerned about U.S. aggression in Pakistan if there are civilians around.

    Mullen, who flew to Islamabad on an unannounced trip late Tuesday, met General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani amid tensions over U.S. raids on tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
    "There are a few militant training camps in the area and no civilian population around the site of strikes," another official said.

    Geo TV: Seven killed in U.S. missile strike in South Waziristan

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