angry anti-American protest in Karachi, Dec. 11: A report from
the Pentagon about a friendly-fire attack on a Pakistan
the Afghan border has failed
assuage Pakistan public
The Nation, Pakistan
For NATO Supply to Resume, America Must Admit to Guilt in Afghan Border Post Killings
government must not accept this report as grounds for restoring NATO supply
lines into Afghanistan. … There has yet to be any guarantee that such an incident
won't happen again. Pakistan has to make it clear that it won't accept this
type of cavalier treatment from a supposed ally that not only refuses to
acknowledge the sacrifices Pakistan has made to America's war, but adds to its
It would be hard to convey in words the visceral anger toward the United States now being felt and expressed in Pakistan. The sense that a deadly U.S. attack on a border post near the Afghan border was deliberate rather than friendly-fire has resulted in a halt to NATO supplies through that nation.
A U.S. commission on the Salalah killings has released its report. It incorporates the
Afghanistan Border Police's version of events, omits the Pakistan version and
tries to whitewash the culpability of American forces in the incident, which
left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead, sparked outrage across Pakistan and brought
Pakistan-U.S. relations to an all-time low.
As Pakistan reviews its
relations with the United States, the report by the officer assigned to
investigate, Air Force Special Operations officer Brigadier General Stephen
Clark, apportioned blame to both sides and was made public on Thursday. Since
the incident happened and attempts were make to affix blame to the Pakistan
side, this is the nearest America has come to admitting fault. But there is no
clear admission that American forces made a very costly error. The report pins blame
on improper coordination by the two militaries and claims that there was no
deliberate attempt to target Pakistan troops, which was what Pakistan has been
By expressing regret about
this, the report dismisses one of its major defects - the absence of Pakistan's
version of events. However, because the report fails to include the Pakistani
version, it will be seen as an attempt to lessen blame on the American side. The
promise in the report that families of the victims will be paid is virtually an
explicit admission. Though they are called "solatium"
payments, they really represent a forlorn hope that the problem will dissipate if
money is thrown at it.
The government must hold out
for what it needs: a full and frank apology. And it must not accept this report
as grounds for restoring NATO supply lines into Afghanistan. One must not
forget that hope of a quick restoration of NATO supplies the major reason that the
investigation has been carried so hastily. Yet there has yet to be any guarantee
that such an incident won't happen again. Pakistan has to make it clear that it
won't accept this type of cavalier treatment from a supposed ally that not only
refuses to acknowledge the sacrifices Pakistan has made to America's war, but
adds to its losses - and then is asks Pakistan to share the blame.
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