Pakistan buries troops amid fury over NATO strike

Published: November 27, 2011

Television stations show the coffins of the soldiers draped in green and white Pakistani flags. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

PESHAWAR: The families of soldiers who were killed when Nato attacked a Pakistani checkpost in the Mohmand Agency on Saturday, buried their loved ones on Sunday.

The relatives of Major Mujahid Hussain and Captain Usman Ali said that the soldiers “sacrificed their lives” for the sake of their country, and they were proud of their sacrifices.

Major Mujahid Hussain hailed from Larkana, and had joined the Pakistan army nine years ago. His body will be taken to his native village after being honoured at the General Head Quarters and Pannu Aqil cantonment.

His family said that they will not “hesitate to offer any sacrifice” for Pakistan.

Captain Usman Ali from Sahiwal city, left behind a widow and a young daughter.  The 23-year-old solder got married last year and was recently promoted to the rank of captain. Usman’s father said his son joined the Pakistan army due to his patriotism.

Nato helicopters and fighter jets attacked two Pakistan military outposts on Saturday, killing 24 soldiers in what Pakistan said was an unprovoked assault. Nato and US officials expressed regret about the deaths of the Pakistani soldiers, but the exact circumstances of the attack were unclear.

Fury over attack

The attack was the latest perceived provocation by the United States, starting with the secret raid which killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May, and the question is whether ties will break or whether the two sides will remain stuck in a bad marriage of convenience.

“US stabs Pakistan in the back, again,” said a headline in the Daily Times, reflecting fury over the attack in Pakistan, a regional power seen as critical to US efforts to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan.

Television stations showed the coffins of the soldiers draped in green and white Pakistani flags in a prayer ceremony at the headquarters of the regional command in Peshawar.

Pakistan shut down Nato supply routes into Afghanistan – used for sending in nearly half of the alliance’s land shipments – in retaliation for the worst such attack since Islamabad uneasily allied itself with Washington following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. That is unlikely to cool tempers in a country where anti-American sentiment runs high even when ties between Islamabad and Washington are smooth.

About 500 members of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s most influential religious party, staged a protest in Mohmand tribal area, where the Nato attack took place. “Down with America” and “Jihad is the only answer to America”, they yelled.

Around 40 troops were stationed at the outposts t the time of the attack, military sources said. Two officers were reported among the dead. “They without any reasons attacked on our post and killed soldiers asleep,” said a senior Pakistani officer, requesting anonymity.

Blunt statements

The border is often poorly marked, and Afghan and Pakistani maps have differences of several kilometres in some places, military officials have said. Pakistan responded with unusually blunt statements condemning the incident as a violation of its sovereignty and it reserved the right to retaliate. Pakistan is a vital land route for nearly half of Nato supplies shipped overland to its troops in Afghanistan, a Nato spokesman said.

Land shipments account for about two thirds of the alliance’s cargo shipments into Afghanistan. A similar incident on Sept 30, 2010, which killed two Pakistani service personnel, led to the closure of one of Nato’s supply routes through Pakistan for 10 days.

Nato apologised for that incident, which it said happened when NATO gunships mistook warning shots by Pakistani forces for a militant attack. US efforts to repair ties with Pakistan have suffered several big setbacks starting with the unilateral US special forces raid that killed bin Laden in a Pakistani town where he had apparently been living for years. Pakistan condemned the secret operation as a flagrant violation of its sovereignty, while suspicions arose in Washington that members of Pakistan’s military intelligence had harboured the al Qaeda leader.

The military came under unprecedented criticism from both Pakistanis who said it failed to protect the country and American officials who said bin Laden’s presence was proof the country was an unreliable ally in the war on militancy.

Pakistan’s army, one of the world’s largest, may see the NATO incursion from Afghanistan as a chance to reassert itself, especially since the deaths of the soldiers are likely to unite generals and politicians, whose ties are normally uneasy. Pakistan’s jailing of a CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, and US accusations that Pakistan backed a militant attack on the US embassy in Kabul have added to the tensions. “From Raymond Davis and his gun slinging in the streets of Lahore to the Osama bin Laden incident, and now to the firing on Pakistani soldiers on the volatile Pakistan-Afghan border, things hardly seem able to get any worse,” said the Daily Times. Islamabad depends on billions in US aid and Washington believes Pakistan can help it bring about a peace in Afghanistan ahead of a combat troop withdrawal at the end of 2014.

“The fact is that such incursions of our sovereignty have become routine and we have become so dependent on the U.S. that we just have to grin and bear it,” said an editorial in The Express Tribune.

In Karachi port, dozens of truck drivers who should have been transporting supplies to Afghanistan were idle.

Taj Malli braves the threat of Taliban attacks to deliver supplies to Afghanistan so that he can support his children. But he thinks it is time to block the route permanently in protest.

“Pakistan is more important than money. The government must stop all supplies to Nato so that they realise the importance of Pakistan,” he said. But some Pakistanis doubt their leaders have the resolve to challenge the United States.

“This government is cowardly. It will do nothing,” said Peshawar shopkeeper Sabir Khan. “Similar attacks happened in the past, but what have they done?”

Reader Comments (44)

  • Hu Jintao
    Nov 27, 2011 - 2:10PM

    Blood for Blood… no more hesitation

    They deliberately attacked Pakistani military post which was 1.5 miles inside our territory.

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  • Nov 27, 2011 - 2:14PM

    Khuda hafiz Shaheedon… this nation will always remember u and ur service to us…!!

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  • r p
    Nov 27, 2011 - 2:20PM

    pakistan has been paid by US for any person killed

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  • RamRod Bil -l Proud US Citizen
    Nov 27, 2011 - 2:31PM

    Those “soldiers” that were killed were ISI agents who seeked cover inside a barracks and got blown away for their cross border attacks on Americans. End of story.Recommend

  • Engineer Nouri
    Nov 27, 2011 - 2:35PM

    Nato air attack on Pakistani troops was self-defence, says senior western official

    US-Pakistan relations strained further after attack allegedly kills up to 28 and prompts ban on Nato trucks crossing Afghan border

    http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/world/2011/nov/26/nato-air-attack-pakistan-soldiers

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  • Nov 27, 2011 - 2:35PM

    Allah may rest the departed souls in peace.

    Allah may give strength to their loved one to bear this irrecoverable loss.

    Allah may give vision, wisdom and courage to our decision makers to do everything for the good of over beloved Pakistan.

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  • Nov 27, 2011 - 2:46PM

    It’s time to tell US to handle it’s issues herself n pak to stand up to self reliance

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  • THE
    Nov 27, 2011 - 2:56PM

    May Allah Bless the souls of these soliders and give them a high place in jannah. Ameen.

    @RamRod Bil -l Proud US Citizen: Stop telling lies! How did you come up with that non-sense?

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  • Talha
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:01PM

    @Hu Jintao

    Talk some sense man, NATO could cripple Pakistan in a matter of hours.

    The only thing that Pakistan could do now is to develop a stronger force, and country that cannot be violated like this.

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  • amna
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:01PM

    I pray that the US would take away their billions so the greedy can leave my country and let it be ruled and run by real Pakistani’s. Enough with these attacks and lame excuses and RAMROD, why dont you take your troops to your own country, that will be the end of all wars.

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  • NJ
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:16PM

    Tears in my Eyes; Rest in Peace sons of Pakistan!!

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  • Sane Voice
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:21PM

    Ay rah-ay haq ke ‘Shaheedoon’ tumhain watan ki hawaien salam kehti hain…

    Salute to all those soldiers and civilians who have been victim of the atrocities by our (dagger in cloak) friends and enemies. May Allah give courage to their families to bear this eternal loss.

    Plz govt. you haven’t given one good news in your entire tenure…but this time…for the sake of your countrymen and people who lost their lives in this ‘War (for) Terror’, choke Nato forces supply, in order to teach them a lesson.

    A simple apology and or monetary compensation won’t bring back our soldiers who are martyred.

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  • Blazing Blitz
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:22PM

    @RamRod Bil -l Proud US Citizen:

    Would you please substantiate your claim, what is your evidence? In any case ISI has arrested & killed hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives who were actively working on attacking the US, thus targeting ISI is stupidly self-defeating. Your stupidity points to your Indianess, not to the US.

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  • Acorn Guts
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:27PM

    May you all rest in peace brave soldiers! The whole nation salutes you!

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  • Hu Jintao
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:45PM

    @RamRod Bil -l Proud US Citizen:
    take that statement of yours where sun dont shine.

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  • Yak
    Nov 27, 2011 - 3:54PM

    Corruption is a double-edged sword, “beloved Pakistan”. This country was harboring a mass-murdering fugitive for a decade, for crying out loud… in a military residential area ! I say don’t support NATO, and take your chances :)

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  • RamRodBill
    Nov 27, 2011 - 4:05PM

    Have some shame. Just because your country kills someone, it doesnt make the victim a terrorist nor does it make his death justifiable. Your government allows mega-corporations to use harmful substances in its products resulting in a lot of diseases and deaths over time. Does this mean that the US’ government’s policy of letting companies poison US population is justifiable and the average US citizen deserves to be exposed to these harmful substances?

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  • huma
    Nov 27, 2011 - 4:15PM

    this post was meant for RomRod Bill, it wasnt written by him..sorry, made a typo..

    Have some shame. Just because your country kills someone, it doesnt make the victim a terrorist nor does it make his death justifiable. Your government allows mega-corporations to use harmful substances in its products resulting in a lot of diseases and deaths over time. Does this mean that the US’ government’s policy of letting companies poison US population is justifiable and the average US citizen deserves to be exposed to these harmful substances?

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  • Shaesta
    Nov 27, 2011 - 4:16PM

    Brutal act by forces.

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 27, 2011 - 4:30PM

    @Hu Jintao:

    Blood for Blood… no more hesitation

    They deliberately attacked Pakistani military post which was 1.5 miles inside our territory.

    Yes !!! Rest assure, the feeling is mutual, NATO is not some mickey mouse organisation, it would not be in the interest of Pakistan to pick a fight with these guys as not only they will leave you with bloodied nose, but will Ostracise you in Global Community, which Pakistan can simply not afford as most of the AID is provided by the member Nations of this Organisation !!
    About only action that Pakistan can take is to get their Ghairat Brigade out on streets of Pakistan and do some flag burning to please the local audience !!!!
    So stop dreaming about things that are not possible !!!!

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  • Usman Ahmad
    Nov 27, 2011 - 4:56PM

    Captain Usman Shaheed was my class fellow in Tariq Bin Ziad School, Sahiwal. He was also a distant relative of me. I was shocked to here the news of his death when my mother told me about it. He had a 2 month old daughter. May Allah give you place in Jannaat! Ameen.

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  • Nov 27, 2011 - 4:59PM

    I am with the hurt of people of Pakistan. Loss of so many soldiers is deplorable. But we must read with care what Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has written to to Pakistan premier Yousuf Raza Gilani to express regret over the “tragic, unintended” deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in an airstrike.

    “I have written to the Prime Minister of Pakistan to make it clear that the deaths of Pakistani personnel are as unacceptable and deplorable as the deaths of Afghan and international personnel,” he said in a statement. “This was a tragic unintended incident.”

    The words “as unacceptable and deplorable as the deaths of Afghan and international personnel” imply as if these have been caused by Pakistan Army and this is a retaliation. Situation seems to be very complex and needs serious thought.

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  • goggi
    Nov 27, 2011 - 5:19PM

    Pakistan is the drill-ground of NATO and Pentagon and our civilians human dartboards……war exercises of their forthcoming assault on Iran.

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  • P N Eswaran
    Nov 27, 2011 - 5:38PM

    On seeing the picture of the coffins of the soldiers killed I remembered the martyrs of Kargil war whose coffins were regularly telecast on the Indian TV. They defended their country eliminating Pakistani intrusion. When their bodies were being brought every Indian was filled with pride and deep personal sorrow. I wonder whether Pakistanis feel the same with this 24 and odd soldiers slaughtered in their sleep and who were posted there to fight the American war on terror.

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  • goggi
    Nov 27, 2011 - 6:29PM

    @P N Eswaran:
    Every human casualty, caused by other human(s), regardless of man-made religions, nationalities and sick national prides, is a SHAME to the Humanity and the label of ” a born criminal” remains justified for the homo sapiens.

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  • Nov 27, 2011 - 6:38PM

    there is question looming large why have so many brave, committed, lion heart soldiers of Pakistan have died during wars of 1948, 1965, 1971, Kargil 1999 and now fighting terror in Afghanistan ? Whose and what end these deaths are serving?

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    Nov 27, 2011 - 7:05PM

    @ P N Eswaran, No pride and personal sorrow felt in nation is because of confusion created by our policy makers. For example, few days back more than dozen soldiers were killed in Baluchistan by terrorists but no grief or sorrow was felt on our faces. Before this inicident, hundreds of our soldiers posted at check points have been killed by Taliban but hardly any eye dropped any tear. As in this incident NATO is involved, therefore its time to settle score and take political advantage. This hypocracy is the reason we are divided.

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  • GVS launch pad
    Nov 27, 2011 - 7:34PM

    @Hu Jintao:
    Your entire defense machinery and armament is obtained from NATO!!! How will you fight your own master? Do not expect China to fight for you. There is nothing so “precious” about Pakistan that China will pick a fight for!!!!

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  • jane
    Nov 27, 2011 - 7:56PM

    Im not a Pakistani but i feel genuinely sorry for the loss of any life , pakistani, american or indian , afghan – how do we stop this unnecessary loss of life ? FM Hina Khar has taken the peace process one step further by forwarding MFN with india , it is one step but in the right direction , but there is strong opposition by many extreme groups that do carry large number opinions – so how to progress on peace with such people around ?

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  • Lawangin
    Nov 27, 2011 - 8:16PM

    look. when you make fire, you have to be prefare for the brunt to come. Why these soldies were sleeping in the first place. Why from Major to the lowest level of soldier went to bed, despite that fact they were on Border Duty where in live war is in progress. Any body coul come and bomb them since they were deep in slumber.

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  • Down with the hedgefunders
    Nov 27, 2011 - 8:23PM

    @hedgefunder: Don’t be so sure about Pakistan’s capabilities! We are a peace loving nation but we will not let this go away without some consequences. Cutting off Nato’s supply line will hurt them beyond what you can even imagine unless this spinless government opens the borders again.
    You seem to have everything negative about Pakistan in your mind. Maybe it’s easy to throw dirt at us from your keyboard! Recommend

  • Raj
    Nov 27, 2011 - 8:33PM

    Why Pakistan is not giving a credible proof that attack was not unprovoked.Pakistan can demand such a proof from India but hesitant to provide similar proof to international community.

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 27, 2011 - 9:00PM

    @Down with the hedgefunders:
    LOL !!! We are aware of Pakistan’s capabilities and stats too !!! they are simply for local consumption, not meant for Global Community !!
    Yes they such a peace loving Nation that they decided to wage proxy war thru their Jihadis on their neighbours in Afghanistan and India !!!
    In regards to NATO supply route , well there is already Northern supply route in operation since June, so don;t consider that as a trump card as likelihood is Islamabad will return to business as normal very soon as they need the dollars that service generates daily!!!
    Lastly show me something positive about Pakistan of today!!! Try it on google and see what comes up about the nation !!
    Like your username too, keep it up !!

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  • mariam.b
    Nov 27, 2011 - 10:28PM

    @hedgefunder
    Afghanistan is the graveyard of Empires and FATA is the U turn of western history
    US of A has no idea what they are getting themselves into

    when our brothers , fathers and sons die for country we thank our Lord , you people are just hammering the last nails in your own coffin

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Nov 27, 2011 - 10:42PM

    @hedgefunder:

    On “stats”, please note that while there may be technical deficiencies in compilation and measurement, they are vetted by global international institutions — including rating agencies.

    Back to the subject: this is a very sad day as they bury the dead. May they rest in peace.

    However, we need to find out what happened. If we don’t and we cannot correct the problem, it will happen again. That is my worry.

    No need to gloat over stranded trucks. Those drivers are only making a living. Standing around and waiting for some insurgent to blow them up, they are not only not being paid but could end up dead. Each one of them probably supports a household of seven persons.

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:04AM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    You are very right. In regards to the stats , i am aware and acknowledge the fact as mentioned by you.
    Once again, i agree that it is a sad day for any lives to be lost regardless on which side, however something fundamental went wrong here, either lack of communications or blatant act of adventurism from either party.
    This relationship is so badly strained already and too many casualties are being returned home in bodybags to all the member countries within the NATO Alliance, that it has started to become local political issue, hence the requirement for swift action and some basic form of stability within Afghanistan.
    As you too must be aware the very idea of managing the Af-Pak border, is a near impossible task, but surely over period of time Pak Army should have attempted to reign in those elements on its side of border rather than considering them as Assets and turning blind eye to the problems in their own back yard!!!
    The discovery of OBL in garrison town in heart of Pakistan certainly did not help build trust and relationship with NATO?ISAF either.
    The real concern should be where is all this heading towards, and what will happen to regional stability in long term???

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  • Hamid
    Nov 28, 2011 - 1:22AM

    Hats off to the greatest Pakistani soldiers, who laid their lives but didnt let foreigners harm us.

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  • Mariam.b
    Nov 28, 2011 - 3:08AM

    @Hedgefender
    Lemme make the endgame of Afghanistan simple for you
    “NATO/ISAF will be the new additions to graveyard of empires”

    After all this is the region where empires come to die
    Remember England & USSR

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  • Babooji
    Nov 28, 2011 - 3:11AM

    @rp – hey u.. . . U must have real low morality to think any amount of money can pay for blood. Just because the leadership of Zardari accepts it does not mean that the Pakistani nation accepts that. Pakistani nation totally rejects any blood money. . . .and that’s why they are willing and bravely lay their lives defending their country at any cost!! You better bow down in respect to these brave peace keeping martyrs!

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  • Shakky Pir
    Nov 28, 2011 - 6:52AM

    So . . . where is all this outrage when the Taliban kill innocent Pakistani soldiers? At least NATO has apologized and promised an investigation of the incident. Does anyone recall the last time that the Taliban apologized and promised an inquiry after bombing innocent civilians?

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  • RamRodBill An ashemd Yankee
    Nov 28, 2011 - 7:09AM

    How long must my country , The US that is , continue to oppress the weak, helpless & weaker militaries?

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  • Midhat
    Nov 28, 2011 - 7:19AM

    @ Your negativety towards Pakistan doesnt even let u see the human tradegy here.

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  • Nov 28, 2011 - 11:48AM

    @Down with the hedgefunders: Sir, no one and believe me no one from outside is throwing dirt on you or the people of Pakistan. Look within where is the cause of all the suffering? And who actually causing fall of dirt and disgrace on proud Pakistanis from within? You will get the answer. in fact we all, at this moment of national sorrow, are with you and feel sad for so many meaningless deaths of brave soldiers.

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  • Nov 28, 2011 - 12:12PM

    @Mariam.b: What you have said is 100% right. And this time in addition to United Kingdom, USSR, USA the name of Pakistan will also be there in the grave yard. Because no one can force them to become backyard or strategic depth. Afghans are a very proud nation and would like to be left alone.

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