By Raja G Mujtaba STAFF WRITER/Editor
General Aslam Beg, former Army Chief has also come hard, he demanded to shoot down intruding ISAF copters, drones, etc. Talking to the media, he said Pakistan Air Force should be ordered to chase and hunt any intruders within our airspace till shot down.
AP has reported that NATO helicopters attacked a Pakistani border post near Afghanistan on Thursday, killing three troops, security officials in Pakistan said. Later, government officials said they were ordered to stop trucks carrying supplies for international forces from entering Afghanistan at a major border crossing.
This was a second attack in a span of few days. Earlier, after the first attack where two helicopters intruded into Pakistan killing few civilians that was also objected to by the Pakistan government. NATO officials were given a warning to refrain from such attacks that were turned down by NATO as their right to attack inside Pakistan. On this the Pakistan Information Minister responded saying that if in future any such attack takes place, Pakistan will retaliate in a suitable manner.
When contacted, ISPR spokesperson confirmed the attacks and blockade of NATO supply line. This action has been warmly received by the Pakistani people at large. He said the instructions are very clear to block the supply line of ISAF till further orders.
Talking to a retired 2 star general of Pakistan army, who wished to remain anonymous, was appreciative of the act. He insisted that the government must hold firm on this for some time to generate general public response in its support. Lifted without achieving the purpose, it will backfire on us.
If NATO and the US do not see to logic and respect the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan, the fallout is likely to exacerbate tensions between Islamabad and Washington, which is struggling to beat back a resurgent Taliban movement in the 9-year-old Afghan war. In such an eventuality, the US would be the loser.
Over the weekend also, NATO choppers intruded and fired on targets in Pakistan, claiming to have killed several alleged insurgents they had pursued over the border from Afghanistan. But reports from the area are quite contrary to their claims. Total casualties were said to be thirty and all were civilians with no insurgents amongst them. Islamabad protested strongly the intrusion into its territory that has inflamed already pervasive anti-American sentiments among Pakistanis.
On Thursday, the government ordered to stop NATO supply trucks from crossing into Afghanistan at the Torkham border post, a major entryway for NATO supplies to Afghanistan that passes through Khyber tribal region. This is the first threat that has been carried out by Pakistan government over the years. This should certainly sound warnings to the US and NATO of the times to come.
The claim that the border troops wear uniforms that resemble the traditional Pakistani dress of a long shirt and baggy trousers — which could make it hard to distinguish them from ordinary citizens or insurgents is not true. The uniform stands out from a distance that can not be mistaken. The dead men were from a paramilitary force tasked with safeguarding the border, the Pakistani security officials said. Their bodies were taken to the region’s largest town of Parachinar, one official said. Three troops also were wounded.
According to AP, Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for intelligence and special operations at NATO headquarters in Kabul, said coalition forces observed early Thursday what they believed were insurgents firing mortars at a coalition base in Dand Wa Patan district of Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan.
“A coalition air weapons team called for fire support and engaged the insurgents,” he said. “The air weapons team reported that it did not cross into Pakistani air space and believed the insurgents were located on the Afghan side of the border.”
If this assumption is true then how come the Pakistani troops well within Pakistani territory were killed and wounded?
Dorrian said NATO was reviewing the reports to see if the operation in Paktia was related to Pakistan’s reports its forces were hit by NATO aircraft.
What happened over the weekend and today was not the first time. A similar act took place in June 2008, a U.S. airstrike killed 11 Pakistani troops and frayed the two nations’ ties. Pakistan said the soldiers died when U.S. aircraft bombed their border post in the Mohmand tribal region.
U.S. officials said their coalition’s aircraft dropped bombs during a clash with militants. They expressed regret over the deaths, but said their attack was justified. If US soldiers were killed as a result of some strike by Pakistani forces would the US accept an apology and regret from Pakistan? By the known track record the Whitehouse and the Capitol Hill would have made a mountain out of the mole finding excuses to punish Pakistan.
The US has to understand that Pakistan and the U.S. have a complicated, but vital, relationship, with distrust on both sides. If its not handled with utmost care the things could get worse. Here the US must remember that it may be very powerful in numerical strength but the Pakistani nation more than makes it through it resilience and conviction to die for the country.
Already, majority of Pakistanis regard the United States as an enemy; with the passage of time even the moderates are turning anti US and conspiracy theories abound of U.S. troops wanting to attack Pakistan and take over its nuclear weapons by deploying Blackwater and Xe etc. No matter how pliable the Pakistan government maybe it cannot ignore the sentiments of the Pakistani people.
If the U.S. and NATO need Islamabad’s cooperation in maintaining the vital artery of supply then it must respect the sentiments and the sovereignty of Pakistan. Or with such acts of war is Obama trying to prove what Bob Woodward has said in his book, ‘Obama’s War?’