After Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani gave army commanders clear directions on Thursday to return fire at the border, Friday saw Pakistan take the rules of engagement up a notch as the foreign ministry turned down a formal request by Nato to nominate a civilian or military representative for a joint investigation into Saturday’s airstrike in Mohmand Agency by the coalition forces.
Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had invited Islamabad to nominate a representative for a joint investigation into the incident which left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead, sparking fury and pushing Pak-US ties in the worst crisis yet, foreign ministry officials said.
Rasmussen had conveyed his message through a phone call last Wednesday to the foreign ministry, the officials said, adding however, that Pakistan outright refused the offer on the government’s directives.
“Pakistan isn’t nominating any representative for a joint investigation … we will never do that. And this has been conveyed to the secretary general,” the official said.
PAF would have engaged NATO in attack
While the country refuses to budge from its stern stance, the military found itself on the defensive on Friday as it offered explanations on why Pakistani soldiers didn’t retaliate after Nato forces
attacked their check posts last Saturday.
A communications breakdown prevented the air force from engaging Nato aircraft when they attacked, the military said.
In a statement on its public relations website, the military said its response to the Nato strike could have been more effective had it been able to scramble its aircraft in time.
“The response could have been more effective if the PAF [Pakistan Air Force] had also joined in. However, it was no fault of the PAF,” the statement said. “A timely decision could not be taken due to the breakdown of communication with the affected posts, resulting in lack of clarity of the situation at various levels, including the Corps Headquarters and GHQ [General Headquarters].”
Exactly what happened at the Pakistani posts is still unclear. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM REUTERS)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2011.