While ISAF is saying that last weekend’s airstrike in Mohmand that killed more than 20 Pakistani soldiers was in response to cross-border attacks from Pakistani territory, the spokesman for the Pakistani military claimed the attack was “unprovoked” and may have been “deliberate.” From McClatchy:
ISAF officers say the strike on Pakistani border positions took place when a joint force of Afghan and Isaf special forces carrying out a counterinsurgency operation in southern Kunar province came under fire and called in “close air support” from Nato aircraft. The air strikes hit two Pakistani border posts in the Mohmand tribal area on Saturday.
Pakistan’s military refused to accept that its checkposts had been hit by accident, insisting that Isaf knew the location of the posts, on a mountaintop at Salala, next to the Afghan border.
Major General Athar Abbas, chief spokesman for the Pakistan military, told the Guardian on Sunday that he did not believe Isaf or Afghan forces had received fire from the Pakistani side. “I cannot rule out the possibility that this was a deliberate attack by ISAF,” said Abbas. “If ISAF was receiving fire, then they must tell us what their losses were.”
Pakistani officials said the posts hit are 300 metres into Pakistani territory, but ISAF officers say the border in that area is disputed.
Abbas said, however, that the firing lasted for over an hour, while ISAF made “no attempt” to contact the Pakistani side using an established border co-ordination system to report that they had come under fire. He said that the map references of the posts were previously passed to ISAF.
“This was a totally unprovoked attack. There are no safe havens or hideouts left there [for militants] in Mohmand,” he said.
“This was a visible, well-made post, on top of ridges, made of concrete. Militants don’t operate from mountaintops, from concrete structures.”
To think that ISAF/the US military would launch an “unprovoked” and “deliberate” attack on the Pakistani military inside Pakistan requires the complete suspension of disbelief. For some perspective, read Matt Dupee’s article yesterday at LWJ detailing numerous cross-border incidents that have been launched from Pakistan. To accept the Pakistani version of the incident, you’d have to be willing to believe that ISAF is seeking to destroy the already-poor relationship with Pakistan, and wants its supply lines through Pakistan shut down. Also, you’d have to believe the US wants Pakistan to dismantle the intelligence infrastructure within Pakistan that is used to hunt al Qaeda with unmanned drones.
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