Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pakistan Condemns 'Unprovoked' Border Attack

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan accused NATO and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) of a deliberate and unprovoked attack on two of its border posts along the Afghan-Pakistan border on the night of Nov. 25/26, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers, and wounding 13.
Trucks carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan are parked Nov. 26 at the Pakistan's Torkham border crossing after Pakistani authorities suspended NATO supplies. (STR / AFP via Getty Images)
A statement from the Army's Inter Services Press Release, said the attack on the two army-manned posts in Mohmand Agency had been "unprovoked" and that the chief of army staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, "strongly condemned NATO/ISAF's blatant and unacceptable act".
The release also stated Kayani had "directed that all necessary steps be under taken for an effective response to this irresponsible act," and that a "strong protest" had been lodged with NATO/ISAF which demanded "strong and urgent action" be taken against those responsible for the "aggression."
Pakistan sealed its Afghan border to NATO, shutting down a lifeline for the estimated 130,000 U.S.-led foreign troops fighting the Taliban, and called on the United States to leave a secretive air base reportedly used by CIA drones.
The Associated Press of Pakistan said a strong protest had been lodged with U.S ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter. Protests were also lodged in Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The Pakistani foreign office issued a statement saying the attacks were "totally unacceptable, constituted a grave infringement of Pakistan's sovereignty, were violative of international law and a serious transgression of the oft conveyed red lines and could have serious repercussions on Pakistan-U.S./NATO/ISAF cooperation."
No further details of the attack or explanation were forthcoming from the Pakistan Army or the Air Force when asked just how the attack was able to take place in the aftermath of the U.S. Navy Seals raid into Pakistan in May when the military was supposed to be more alert to threats emanating from the western border, or why ISAF/NATO attacked posts they knew to be manned by the Pakistan Army, or why the Pakistan Air Force was not able to intervene.
South Asia analysts and former Australian defense attaché to Islamabad Brian Cloughley said the consequences of the raid would be probably severe.
"This is quite outrageous and I have no doubt it signifies the end of the last lingering shreds of trust that the Pakistan army had for the U.S.," Cloughely said.
He added: "The locations of Pakistani posts have been notified to ISAF. There is no excuse whatever for this incident, especially after the meeting between Kayani and [ISAF commander Gen. John R] Allen."
Cloughley visited Mohmand Agency in early November and was hosted by the Pakistan Army's 77 Brigade that is based there. The brigade had just concluded Operation Brekhna, a three-phase operation to clear the area of some one thousand Taliban militants that took place between January and September 2011.
The operation faced substantial threats from IEDs (which accounted for 47 of the brigade's 74 killed), uncovered nine bomb factories, and an elaborate tunnel system (one part of which contained a 40-bed hospital).
Cloughley also said the Pakistani officers complained that no ISAF or Afghan forces were based between the border and the Kunar River in Afghanistan, and that this area had militant bases (which remained unharmed) from where raids were carried out into Pakistan.
A raid emanating from this area of Afghanistan in August killed 16 Frontier Scouts in the Pakistani region of Chitral.
Information from Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.

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