Pakistan border fire provoked NATO raid: Reports

By AFP
Published: November 28, 2011

Relatives and residents pray near the flag-draped coffin of solider Najeebullah, who was killed in a Nato cross-border attack one day earlier, during his funeral in his hometown Charsadda in northwest Pakistan November 27, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The West is striving to limit the fallout from a deadly Nato air raid on Pakistani border troops, but reports the soldiers opened fire first on US and Afghan forces risked stoking new tensions.

Pakistan is simmering over the killings of the 24 soldiers, with fiery weekend protests denouncing the assault by Nato helicopters and fighter jets on two military posts on the Afghan border early Saturday.

The United States, which depends on Pakistan as a vital lifeline to supply 130,000 foreign troops fighting in landlocked Afghanistan, on Sunday scrambled to salvage the alliance, backing a full inquiry and expressing condolences.

Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen also sought to soothe Islamabad’s rage, but stopped short of issuing a full apology for the “tragic, unintended” killings.

In retaliation for the raid, Islamabad has blocked Nato convoys from crossing into Afghanistan, ordered a review of its alliance with the US and mulled whether to boycott a key conference on Afghanistan next month.

Hundreds of enraged Pakistanis took to the streets Sunday, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and setting fire to US flags across the country of 167 million where opposition to the government’s US alliance is rampant.

Pakistan says the attack was unprovoked.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar telephoned US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday to convey a “deep sense of rage” as a joint funeral was held for the dead soldiers, their coffins draped in the national flag.

But a report in Monday’s Wall Street Journal — denied by Islamabad — said the Nato jets and helicopters responded to firing from a Pakistani post on the ill-defined Afghan border.

The article, which followed a similar report by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, cited three Afghan officials and one Western official as saying the air raid was called in to shield allied forces targeting Taliban fighters.

Nato and Afghan forces “were fired on from a Pakistani army base”, the unnamed Western official told the Wall Street Journal. “It was a defensive action.”

An Afghan official in Kabul was quoted as saying: “There was firing coming from the position against Afghan army soldiers who requested support and this is what happened.”

The official added that the government in Kabul believes the fire came from the Pakistani military base — and not from insurgents in the area.

There was no official US response to the report.

The latest tensions have erupted months after the fraught US-Pakistan alliance was plunged into crisis by the killing in May of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden north of Islamabad by US special forces.

On the Fox News Sunday talk show, US lawmakers vented frustration over Pakistan, with Republican SeNator Jon Kyl demanding Islamabad cooperate with the United States in order to maintain billions of dollars in financial aid.

SeNator Dick Durbin, a top Democrat, offered condolences but said US soldiers were caught in a “diplomatic morass between the incompetence and corruption in Afghanistan, and complicity in parts of Pakistan”.

But John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations who was a hawkish foreign policy advisor to president George W Bush, laid bare the dilemma for Washington in handling nuclear-armed Pakistan.

“While it is tempting for many people to say we ought to throw the Pakistanis over the side and stop giving them aid… as long as that country has nuclear weapons that could fall into the hands of radicals and be a threat worldwide, they have incredible leverage,” he said.

The United States in 2009 approved a huge five-year, $7.5 billion civilian assistance package for Pakistan, but some US lawmakers want to cut civilian aid due to concerns over extremism.

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Reader Comments (64)

  • faraz
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:01AM

    I think these helicopters have a live video feed, that video could decide with certainty if it was provoked or not

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  • Hairaan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:09AM

    After thoughts.

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  • mirza
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:12AM

    wall steet journal has a well known anti pakistan bias
    they are quoting unames afghan officials. ,its well known all northern alliance are indian puppets

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  • Usman
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:13AM

    It’s one thing for foreign newspapers to print such made up stories, quite another for a Pakistani newspaper to do so. ET you are not only being disrespectful to the soldiers who laid down their lives but also being treacherous to your own country.

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  • Mirza
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:13AM

    Both Pakistan and the US must present their side of the story with the proofs in an International court of law that what was the reason more than two dozen people died. Talk is cheap and we should first get to the bottom of this and make sure this type of incident is never repeated. We should also make sure that this incident is not used to create more chaos in Pakistan and create a civil war like situation. Right now an unconditional apology from the US and compensation to the bereaved families should be the first step.

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  • Usman
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:15AM

    Pakistan border fire provoked NATO raid

    ET, you could not have put up a more disrespectful headline. Shame

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  • antanu
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:28AM

    But for some people in Pakistan, reports from western media are like devine words..

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  • Saad Durrani
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:30AM

    Oh good. I knew it would end up like this. Hence, we will be blamed, and the leftist crowd will agree.

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  • CommonSense
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:32AM

    Yea sure we did. Unlike the US we do not shoot ourselves in the foot by playing such tactics. This is typical face-saving tactics by the Americans. Just like they want to negotiate peace with Taliban and fight them at the same time, similarly they want Pakistan’s help but also dictate us like masters at the same time.
    NATO if its so beneath to ego to apologise and accept your fault, then MAKE SURE you dont commit such blunders next time.

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  • asim
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:44AM

    I think the afghanis have become our enemies.

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  • OhLaLa
    Nov 28, 2011 - 9:52AM

    Really NATO? Were you being pelted from the Pakistani side with pebbles – because as far as I can see, we are the ones with 30 dead soldiers not you. How many losses on the NATO side? Stop coming up with pathetic excuses which only add fuel to fire.

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  • Hu Jintao
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:02AM

    They came inside Pakistani Territory… their new reasoning is totally baseless and hurtning. and they are quoting unnamed afghan officials which we know how much pro-pakistan they are and how pro-pakistan these western newspapers are

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  • ashok sai
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:14AM

    Remembering what Kayani said, ‘They will think 10 times before attacking”, seems count is over.

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  • Saud
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:15AM

    I agree with faraz about checking the aircrafts n Heli video feed incl ground forces… If what US says has an iota of truth, they would have leaked these video to mainstream channels to declare us a terrorist nation. Pakistan should as compensation for the shaheeds families like us does 100 mill per soldiers as US did in Iraq with Iraqis

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  • Jamali
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:18AM

    Still unconvincing, since the attack was an agggresion on Pakistan’s territory and no amount of white wash will work. This is a clear cut message to Pakistan that, it has no business in this ugly war. This war will eat up humanity and is evil!!!!!!!

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  • san
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:19AM

    Another shameless plot by Pakistani Govt & America to defame Pak army and divert every one’s attention from the Memogate Scandal….

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  • Ghaznavi
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:23AM

    @ Mirza

    American troops are not accountable to any international justice system, and can not be charged under international law. Apologies wont suffice, we need some concrete action against the culprits.

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  • RizwanTKhan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:31AM

    Pakistan forces should attack NATO forces.This has to end. We cant let our soldiers/men be killed so brutally by these so-called men of peace.

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  • Nasim
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:31AM

    Our soldiers were murdered while asleep, how could they have slept while firing, or, shooting was taking place in their vicinity ( as reported by the Wall Street Journal)?

    Remember that the Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same obnoxious liar
    who owns Fox News; how can any one ( except George W Bush) attach any credence to media controlled by Murdoch?

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  • Zkhan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:39AM

    This might be good, in away that we stop the US/ NATO supplies for good and US cuts our aid permanently. We don’t want the AID ! What we need to do is to focus on our own issues. Sooner our politicians stop getting the AID the better. It does very little for the Pakistani people.

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  • Nasir
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:41AM

    “Lamb made the water muddy”, the wolf said….

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  • Nov 28, 2011 - 10:51AM

    Pakistan Should not Support US, they are getting the treatment for Supporting them…Hope You Learnt the Lesson.

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:51AM

    @asim:

    I think the afghanis have become our
    enemies

    It’s just that you are late to realize the truth. Pakistan has treated Afghanistan as their backyard/subject/colony for way too long.

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  • Nov 28, 2011 - 10:53AM

    such a shameful advocate ET is trying to be

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  • Zardari
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:59AM

    These reports cite unnamed afghan sources, there is no reason not to beleive them. As unnamed sources are very credible. Also pres karzai and nato generals do not have time to make such claims.

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  • abdalian27
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:02AM

    Bundle of lies as usual.The end game time has come for NATO in Afghanistan.Now we have to shift some air defence guns in this area,after that they will not dare to cross our boarders.

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  • Nov 28, 2011 - 11:03AM

    US the terrorist, US the murderer, US the plunderer, US the liar. Now we are suppose to believe the lies they spew. Why their lies get so much coverage in Pakistani news papers?

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  • Spaniard
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:13AM

    I think american soldiers have gone mad in aghanistan and giving such stupid statments…

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  • Pundit
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:13AM

    @Usman: Completely disagree…..
    a newspaper has to report all facets of a story.
    I think ET is doing a fabulous job.

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  • Nov 28, 2011 - 11:22AM

    Why am I getting this impression as soon as visiting ET that I am reading some CNN / FOX News sister network ?

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  • Sherki-Khala
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:23AM

    @Yuri Kondratyuk – remember it is you Indians that have been using the Afghan soil for much too long for proxy war and terrorism at Pakistan’s back door!!

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  • Cautious
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:28AM

    Pakistan has a history of shooting at NATO troops when they near the border – unfortunately for Pakistan NATO has bigger and more sophisticated weapons so when they shoot back Pakistani soldiers die – smart move is too not shoot at NATO troops.Recommend

  • MarkH
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:39AM

    @Mirza:
    An apology will not happen. True or not, their official stance is they were attacked first and they’ll stick to it and nobody would apologize in such a scenario. It would also impact the validity of that statement.which further adds onto the poor odds of an apology enough to treat it as though it’s not even an option.

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  • Ali
    Nov 28, 2011 - 11:55AM

    That was expected, because this is what they can say. Now in this situation Pakistan must have shoot downed any of their aircraft than they would have said……look what Pakistan has done with us, so now we will fight with Pak. I think for the next time Pak army must not spare them, so they may know how to do a deliberate mistake….cowards….In this situation Pakistan must make a strong policy for future and this must be conveyed in clear words. However,We must not forget the Indian influence in Afghanistan.

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:04PM

    @Zkhan: Only when you stop taking aid will the politicians be forced to take decisions which are economic “Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqder se pehle
    Khuda bande se ye poche bata teri raza kia hai”

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  • Hu Jintao
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:08PM

    is ET a Pakistani newspaper?

    How shameful for them to disrespect the soldiers who laid down their lives to protect these very leftist people.

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  • Adeel Ahmed
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:17PM

    Stupid stance by NATO.

    Pakistan need to draw lines. Its enough.

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  • Irtaza M. Awan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:19PM

    We mourn the loss of life but I would just remind everyone that we should not hasten up blame. The very same U. S. forces were in Pakistan in good numbers helping us after the earthquake and also after the Floods last year. So lets take a deep breath and investigate the matter fully before reaching conclusions. It could just be a case of mistaken identity and let me assure you no matter what the technology or the smart people behind the technology, in the fog war things can get very ugly and very quickly.

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  • Piece of advice
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:38PM

    @Cautious – Rationalizing . . . .it must be indians on the ground representing Afghans and giving deliberate orders misleading and using NATO to attack within Pakistan’s border killing their peace keeping soldiers. The lesson learnt is for Pakistan to wake up and understand that with India on the back ground dictating the Afghans and NATO somehow, it will be a mess and all of Pakistan’s sincere efforts will be stampeded so therefore it should not be a part of such a war. Also the US should not drag Pakistan into such a war where it is keeping partnership with India on the background and listening to India,s instructions on Pakistan – it cannot have both as it would be counter productive!!

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  • Young Boy
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:49PM

    HuH !!!! Pakistan is the Ally of US. Just look British is also the Allay. See the difference…

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  • shahzad
    Nov 28, 2011 - 12:55PM

    time has come that we have to tell USA that enough is enough, it is the time for them to quit from Afghnistan, and they have failed in Afghanistan and what are they talking of, from past 11 Years they are not able to bring democracy in Afghanistan, Karzai is not democratic leader of Afghanistan and Ammerica is liable of killing thousands of Afghani and Pakistan,

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  • atif
    Nov 28, 2011 - 1:01PM

    ET must learn some basic journalism, headline is so misleading, it seems to be suggesting that ET’s reporters are reporting this, but in fact ET is just copy/pasting foreign newspapers reports.
    a real shame. no independent reports, just promoting west’s point of view.

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  • aayush
    Nov 28, 2011 - 1:06PM

    @ashok sai:
    gud point. may be know kayani will forget counting.

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  • Azam Khan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 1:12PM

    @ Sarmad Hassan
    Remember, ET is partner of “International Herald Tribune”–the global edition of “The New York Times”Recommend

  • Moeed Pirzada
    Nov 28, 2011 - 1:41PM

    Express Tribune needs to act with responsibility; this particular story does not fit well with their role as a premier media house; they need to critically examine the NATO claims as being released into public space, through unnamed Afghan and western officials, as part of disinformation. Pakistani position & initial evaluation of the nature of this attack is being openly expressed at the highest level of Gen. Athar Abbas. Express Tribune needs to compare this and evaluate the role of GPS coordinates in all this. – Moeed Pirzada

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Nov 28, 2011 - 1:51PM

    @Sherki-Khala:

    you Indians that have been using the
    Afghan soil for much too long for
    proxy war

    We are only too happy to payback Pakistan’s mischief with interest.

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  • Truth
    Nov 28, 2011 - 2:23PM

    This is utterly stupid. It was deliberate attack. Recently Pak forces had eliminated the Pak Taliban presence in that area. The Pak Taliban are an Indo-US proxy (and a separate entity to the Afghan Taliban) force used for their own agendas. For the US to keep Pak engaged in the “war on terror” as “terrorists will be attacking Pak”- for India to destabilise Pak and establish a presence there against it. When Pakistan forced Pak Taliban on the back foot and were forcing them into negotiations to put down their weapons…the US attacked and destroyed two checkpoints. I’m assuming these checkpoints would’ve had some significance as only recently these areas were cleared of Pak Taliban.

    It was a deliberate attack- across the border, to hand Pak Taliban a lifeline…

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  • Loyal
    Nov 28, 2011 - 2:48PM

    Nato is writing the story as time goes on.

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  • Hmm
    Nov 28, 2011 - 3:04PM

    @jagjit sidhoo – .. “Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqder se pehle
    Khuda bande se ye poche bata teri raza kia hai” …

    Very well quoted dude…Iqbal should be taken more seriously and acted upon accordingly – and then maybe we’ll see these issues to rest.. And yes we don’t want US aids (Maybe only our politicians do for their own pockets & business ventures)… you can see US AID initiatives sprouting up all over the country..especially through media related programs.. another attempt by US to brainwash our masses (camouflaged through altruistic missions!)..time for people to wake up & for US to ship out!

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  • sana
    Nov 28, 2011 - 3:33PM

    a very predictable after-thought…all we need to wait for is how they prove it. How interesting would that be!Recommend

  • CommonSense
    Nov 28, 2011 - 3:37PM

    @Mirza and the Indians
    So far the accusations are coming only from unnamed sources. Lets see if they have the guts to officially issue the statement accusing us. If they are in the clear then they should officially accuse us, not behind the scenes leaks. Obviously they are empty on evidence to backup the claims. So please dont accuse us and also in this endgame you are the one who needs us not the other way around. You can have your laugh for now and cry later when the Talibans bring you down to your knees. Oh wait they are already doing that. Isnt that why you need us to sort out your exit for you?

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  • Sam
    Nov 28, 2011 - 4:09PM

    As far as it goes, NATO helicopters were in Pakistans territory, hence Pakistan has the right to fire on to them. It’s a disrespect to Pakistans Soviernity, what will happen if Pakistan would enter the US airspace for example, and kill 24 of their soldiers? Could we get away with the provoked or self defense excuse? Our planes would be shot dead and I’m guessing all our aid would be shut down. US would declare war against us.

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  • Khan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 4:59PM

    @Usman:
    Isn’t biased reporting of history enough in our text books that you want a NEWS PAPER to report only what you want to believe or what you want to hear … As professionals ET must print whatever makes a news … Its not responsibility of a news paper or any media to implement their biased opinion or reporting. Responsibility of Media is reporting regardless of what the news is saying … Its up to readers to form their own opinion after seeing both side of a story. They have not said who is right or wrong. They have even printed your comments though they do not agree with it I am sure but just as that’s your own opinion and you are entitled to it.

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  • bibyawari
    Nov 28, 2011 - 5:04PM

    I think we should all wake up particularly those who used to call this war as our war, the so-called war on terror, and it should also be decided whether we should fight this war further or not. a clear cut eye opener, for those who advocates this war on terror. No excuses should be accepted because this is the time to say NO to this war. Its been more that 5-6 times our army men are humilated, everybody knows that this was a well thought out and deliberate attack on us, time to decide, otherwise no end to such humilations.

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  • Khan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 5:13PM

    @CommonSense:
    I would disagree with you based on what you have said about the so called End Game… We need to get rid of these savages in FATA more than any other country … At worse Afghanistan will get back to its 1990s situation and they will keep on fighting .. US & NATO can quit any time they want Its not that they are playing in their own country but in a foreign country.
    Their influence will remain the same as they are major producers of world technology etc for which every one is dependent on them but the question is Can we then live in a peaceful enviroment … Are these people going to stop their “Act like GOD” attitudes and teaching us their moral and implementing their way of life on our society by force? Can we be assured that our children will have peaceful country and our daughters and women be able to get education and live their life without any threat to it from these barbarians? the answer is No a million times.

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  • Khan
    Nov 28, 2011 - 5:16PM

    @RizwanTKhan:
    Are you insane or what? Attack who? 30 major countries and end up destroying not only everything we have … Its like one wants to get cancer because they have a flu.
    It costs nothing to think before you speak.

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  • The Truth
    Nov 28, 2011 - 6:05PM

    @Khan

    In reality most of the upper middle class and elite are concerned with preserving their own lifestyles and affluence. The Taliban did not nor will attempt to takeover Pakistan- they are solely concerned with Pak. The forces that you refer to emerged after Pak joined in America’s war on terror and are US proxies that fight Pak only.

    With respect to “savages” “education for women”- this is a much hyped issue in a country where the people are suffering from lack of basic needs such as water, food and electricity.

    The majority of Pakistan opposes those who seek to impose liberal, western, secular values on the country which are a disease that rots society from the inside. We need Iqbal’s ideology not western secular values pushed down our throats by western stooges.

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  • Akthar
    Nov 28, 2011 - 6:16PM

    Khan @Commonsense.
    Your response is 100% right. Many of us are getting carried away in Anger. But you are speaking ground realities. Infact, ET Editorial yesterday made me furious, but then ET was showing the mirror. Same thing happened during the Raymond Davis hype as well. All of us were really carried away with anger, & were blaming ET, but the reality was Raymond Davis left the country comfortably and we were shocked.
    Without Doubt, there is a feeling despondency, betrayal, helplessness, frustration and anger, but we should also understand ground realities and practicality. All major countries including china only gives honey dipped words, but will it really take on the chinese for us, the Answer is NO. We know it, but get carried away all the time.

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  • SaudiRules
    Nov 28, 2011 - 6:59PM

    All the khakis, politicians, Toru-burger brigade and other people who feel strongly displeasured by the NATO attack, should make promise to:
    1. Not visit any of NATO country (includes US,UK,Cananda,Germany,Italy,France etc.) for a year. Not for travel, business or education. Let’s instead go to our “all weather” friend china for travel, business or education.
    2. Imran Kahn, should bring back his two sons from posh London home and school to Lahore.
    3. ex-commando Musharaff should sell his millions of dollars condo in UK and come home.
    4. Khakis can trade in their 7-series BMWs with chinese made cars, after all if chinese JF-17 is better than US F-16, china must have cars better than 7-series BMW, as cars are less sophisticated machines then super sonic jet fighters, no?

    Or better yet, the khakis should declare all NATO country consulates in Pakistan closed as long as NATO transport is stopped.Recommend

  • Skin Taj
    Nov 28, 2011 - 7:14PM

    “Imagine how we would feel if it had been 24 American soldiers killed by Pakistani forces at this moment,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat from Illinois, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 28, 2011 - 8:00PM

    What would happend if pakistan killed a 25 Nato army men?????
    Just sorry will workRecommend

  • The Truth
    Nov 28, 2011 - 8:35PM

    @ SaudiRules…

    So we should tolerate NATO aggression and attacks and accept servitude because people send their sons and daughters to study in NATO member countries and drive in German manufactured cars (for which they pay the countries!)?

    Gives whole new meaning to twisted logic…

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  • Nov 29, 2011 - 4:14AM

    For John Bolton to admit that Pakistan has any sort of leverage whatsoever must have been like swallowing a bitter pill the size of a nuclear warhead.

    The guy is a waste of space and should be consigned to the dustbin of history along with his partners in crime GW Bush and Donald Rumsfeld who kick started this whole sorry Afghanistan adventure.

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  • Iron hand
    Nov 29, 2011 - 10:38AM

    @faraz: If the video feed showed that NATO fired first, it would be embraced by the radical bloggers. If the video feed showed that Pakistanis fired first, it would be attacked as a fake and product of a NATO conspiracy. There is simply no reaching those who fit the facts to their conclusions rather than the other way around.

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