By Lt Col Zaheerul Hassan (R)
Pakistan Army has rejected “Pentagon Report” regarding NATO attack on her border check post on November 26, 2011, in which 24 soldiers including one Major and Capt have been martyred and many injured. The attack, have taken placed at Salala check post, about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from the Afghan border in the Mohmand region of Pakistan’s tribal belt. The unprovoked and indiscriminate strike added tension in the already strained U.S.-Pakistan relations and resulted into immediate discontinuation of the supply via Pakistan to NATO troops located in Afghanistan couple with boycott of second Bonn Conference.
Pakistan has already shown concern over the appointment of Brigadier General Stephen Clark as a head of the investigating team in relation to NATO strike on the check post. Pakistani authorities has was very rightly raised earlier that Brigadier General Stephen Clark can never bring out unbiased findings.
Nevertheless, Brigadier General Clark has been linked to the strategic team involved in the attack. He also commanded the same team of aviation squadron which took part in the strike. And that is why; he is believed to be an inappropriate choice to carry out investigation as a neutral party. The report by military investigators was delivered to General Ashfaq Kayani on Sunday by a US officer based in Islamabad, who explained the findings to the general, Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby told the reporters. The Pentagon spokesman also stated that the full report from the joint US-NATO investigative team was not released publicly until December 26,2011 with the purpose of giving time to Pakistani leadership to read the findings first.
According to the sources, the report has not fixed the sole responsibility of strike on NATO and ISAF forces. It only confirmed the already made Pentagon impression regarding November 26 incident. According to that opinion inadequate coordination on both sides of the border and incorrect map information provided by NATO to Pakistani authorities, were to blame for the incident. Pakistani Military authorities though did not participate in the investigation but followed the trend of the progress of the enquiry because of release of loose statements of officials of Pentagon, local and l NATO and ISAF. Therefore, Pakistan finally rejected the outcome of the enquiry report on the NATO strike issue. It is mentionable here that international human rights commission also dismissed the U.S. report on the said strike too.
Pakistan stance is absolutely clear since concern officer of Pakistan Army has informed the Cencom and regional operational headquarter of NATO forces once first time check post came under attack . The concerned NATO’s officer probably did not ask their helicopters to stop engaging of the post and as result attack continue for over two hour till its final destruction. The report did confirm the air strikes from F-15 fighter bombers; Apache attack helicopters and an AC-130 Spectre gunship. Notably, the attacking helicopters of ISAF which have been flown back on completion of first mission, once again after half an hour turned back for second strike on the post.
Nevertheless, U.S. political and military leadership instead seeking a full apology has maintained that the November 26 incident was a regrettable mistake and equally sheared by both sides. In addition, the current probe once again endorsed that the U.S. forces “acted in self-defence and with appropriate force after being fired upon”.
NATO attack and final outcome of the report has again infuriated the Pakistani nation and added enormous strain to the relationship between Washington and Islamabad, would be crucial to outcome of the Afghan war. On the occasion of 4th death anniversary of late Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, while addressing the masses President Zardari indirectly conveyed to Washington that Pakistani will not fight others war now. In this regard he stated Pakistan had decided not to be part of any international war game or any ‘theatre of war’ which has nothing to do with us,” .He categorically said that Pakistan would enter into trade pacts with other countries of its choice, and not on the behest of any other country. He also stressed that the need for new trade blocs with regional countries including China, Russia and Central Asian states. He clarified that these would not be the blocs of aggression but of mutual trade. The president statement has given the clear indication of shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy.
In this connection, Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNC) is reviewing the country foreign policy and going to redefine the policy since the government cannot afford to ignore the public’s demand of delinking the country from so called “Global War on Terror”. During the said war over 40000 civilians and soldiers had sacrificed their lives in 300 drone attacks, suicidal bombing and sabotage activities. Pakistan has also suffered over $80 Billion losses in terms of damages to material, equipment and infrastructure but yet both U.S. Houses, Senate and congress agreed to freeze $700 million in US aid to Pakistan on the plea that it failed to stop in spreading of improvised explosive devices in the region. Interestingly, Pakistan doesn’t have sufficient Calcium Ammonium Nitrate which should be made available in the market. It is only being used in fertilizer. The Ammonium, Nitrate is also available in Iran, Uzbekistan and others central Asian states too. Can’t it be smuggled from Iran & Uzbekistan and smuggled in Afghanistan. Therefore, alleging Pakistan for transporting of Ammonium Nitrate in Afghanistan is totally baseless and stoppage of US aid related with the control of fertilizer is not justified.
Coming back to the topic, I would say that outcome of the investigation report is an attempt of hiding the reality with a view to twist the actual plan through fabricated facts. It is not a first time that NATO forces violated Pakistani sovereignty, earlier in April and August 2011, 17 rockers were fired which landed in Angoor Adda area of South Waziristan Agency (SWA). Pakistan has given cold shoulder to Gen. John Allen Commander NATO forces while postponing his planned visit to Islamabad.
In short, now it’s the time that any aggression or violation of sovereignty must be responded back with full strength. Nation should display solidarity, unity and stand with the forces and government to fight back the real enemy. NATO and Americans leadership should be made clear that “enough is enough” now no further attack would be acceptable in future. NATO and American leadership should be asked to seek apology and give compensation to the bereaved families. Pakistan should get out of the war and supply to NATO forces should not be restored free of cost. NATO be asked to payback immediately the damage caused to our infrastructure as result of plying of heavy NATO containers.
The writer can be approached through firstname.lastname@example.org