Deadly intrusion: Pakistan inflamed as 24 killed in NATO strike

Published: November 27, 2011
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Government blocks NATO supply routes
US told to vacate Shamsie Airbase in 15 days
All ties with ISAF/NATO/US to be ‘reviewed’ 
Civil, military leaders lash out at the provocation. DESIGN: SAMAD SIDDIQUI

Government blocks NATO supply routes US told to vacate Shamsie Airbase in 15 days All ties with ISAF/NATO/US to be ‘reviewed’ Civil, military leaders lash out at the provocation. DESIGN: SAMAD SIDDIQUI

PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: 

For possibly the first time, the intensity of the official response matched the shock of the event.

Airstrikes by Nato jets and helicopters on Pakistani military outposts along the border with Afghanistan left at least 24 soldiers dead and 14 injured early Saturday morning. And by Saturday evening, Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership struck a crescendo in its response.

The United States has been told to evacuate a logistically key airbase it operates in Balochistan – Shamsie Airbase – within 15 days. In addition, Pakistan’s fury was driven home with an official statement that it will shut down Nato supply routes operating through its territory – something that has happened for the first time, though supply routes have previously been temporarily blocked unofficially following similar attacks.

The decisions came following a meeting of the high-powered cabinet committee on defence – a panel that includes the prime minister, the service chiefs and key ministers.

The move to block the supply routes comes “in accordance with the resolution of the Joint Session of the Parliament of 14 May, 2011,” a statement issued after the meeting said.

Though the official statement came in the evening, the move to block supplies came a lot earlier. Authorities in Khyber Agency and Balochistan had already shut down Nato supply routes earlier in the day.

To further accentuate its anger over the incident, a statement by the committee also said that the government will revisit and undertake a complete review of all programmes, activities and cooperative arrangements with the US/Nato/Isaf, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence-sharing.

Speaking to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity, a US official said the demand to vacate Shamsi Airbase had not yet been sent through “official channels.”

What happened

The incident, which was one of the deepest-ever Nato attacks, occurred some two kilometres inside Pakistani territory.

It remains unclear what exactly happened, but the attack took place around 2 am in the Baezai area of Mohmand Agency. A security official in Peshawar told The Express Tribune that the attack targeted two security outposts in the Salala area of the Baezai tehsil. The official went on to identify the outposts as “Boulder” and “Volcano”.

The official also confirmed that two officers, including a major and captain, were killed in the attack. The officers were identified as Major Mujahid and Captain Usman.  Tribal sources said that the Salala area is situated close to the Pak-Afghan border, some 55 kilometres northwest of Mohmand Agency headquarters Ghalaani.

“This time their jets also intruded … which is more alarming. They actually attacked two check posts,” an army official said. When asked why Pakistan failed to intercept the intruding aircraft, he said the distance between the border and the check posts was just two kilometres and they had managed to complete their operation within seconds.

NATO’s response

“Close air support was called in, in the development of the tactical situation, and it is what highly likely caused the Pakistan casualties,” said General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).  He added that he could not confirm the number of casualties, but Isaf is investigating the “tragic development”.

“We are aware that Pakistani soldiers perished. We don’t know the size, the magnitude,” he said. The commander of Nato-led forces in Afghanistan, General John R Allen, said he offers his condolences to the family of any Pakistani soldiers who “may have been killed or injured”.

US expresses regret

US Ambassador Cameron Munter regretted the lives lost in the attack. In a short statement issued by the US embassy, he said, “I have seen press accounts of an incident on the Pak-Afghan border in which Pakistani soldiers were reportedly killed. I regret the loss of life of any Pakistani serviceman, and pledge that the United States will work closely with Pakistan to investigate this incident.”

Points to be noted

The attack came a few hours after a meeting between the commanders of forces on both sides of the border — Commander Isaf General Allen, and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The meeting discussed border control and enhanced cooperation.

Speaking to the media, Pakistan military spokespersons said that the excuse that the aircraft were chasing militants was feeble, given that the area in question had been cleared of militants and hideouts.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • ihtisham
    Nov 27, 2011 - 10:06AM

    “US told to vacate Shamsi­e Airbas­e in 15 days”. Did not the PM, President & COAS Kyani strongly denied the presence of US soldiers in “Shamsi Airbase” on a No. of ocassions in the past. Hypocracy at its best. Plz stop telling further lies to our nation.

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  • Obaid
    Nov 27, 2011 - 10:16AM

    I can’t help but laugh at the statement “the first time, the intensity of the official response matched the shock of the event”. Try killing even one NATO soldier and see what happens. What about the families of those who were murdered? Can they take any comfort in the closure of the supply routes.

    Our self centered establishment with their fickle loyalties can’t even demand that the killers be tried in a neutral court. What if it happens again in future ? We must ask ourselves some some prudent questions. What is the ability of out armed forces? If they can’t even repel of intercept an attack on this intensity they whats their purpose?

    THIS IS NOT A TIME TO GET MAD. ITS TIME TO GET EVEN.

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  • Usman Waraich
    Nov 27, 2011 - 10:19AM

    It is a complete outrage. May Allah have mercy on the souls of the servicemen and provide strength to the families to bear this loss. USA & NATO “deep regrets” should be thrown back at their faces..

    The response shown by the leadership this time round atleast shows some ‘Ghairat”….I sense this is more so because zardari and co are already under pressure from the military due to their memo fiasco and so now they have suddenly found in themselves the national pride and dignity to stand up to the “Big Bully”. The vacation of Shamsi air base is still not offciial. It really amazes me that despite providing invaluable tactical facility to US and NATO, Pakistan is still being treated like “Village jester (Punjabi language has a better word for it which i shall not use).

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Nov 27, 2011 - 10:19AM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.How many more innocent Pakistanis shall be killed by the US and NATO troops and choppers?So much more slavery and beggary shown by our corrupt leaders?

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  • American Favour
    Nov 27, 2011 - 10:28AM

    Another American favor for Mr. Zardari.

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  • Mirza
    Nov 27, 2011 - 10:39AM

    How many weeks would it take for the supplies to start flowing again? Some words of apology, arms and money would as usual do the trick!

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  • dhoti_wala
    Nov 27, 2011 - 11:28AM

    why 15 days notice to vacate base.. whynot 24 hours.. or 48 hours. .

    15 days is like a joke

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  • Nov 27, 2011 - 11:37AM

    NO MORE EXCUSES FOR “THEIR” WAR
    This attack is in violation of:
    1) UN Charter
    2) UN Resolutions on the mandate of NATO / US Forces in Afghanistan.
    3) All International Relations Treaties and Statutes and Laws governing Relationships between States / Countries.
    4) Mutual Cooperation Agreements between Pakistan and NATO / US with reference to Afghanistan.
    Keeping in mind the above referred points, We demand Pakistani Govt to:
    1) Immediately take the matter to United Nations.
    2) Permanently stop all cooperation with NATO / US in Afghanistan including Supplies to NATO / US Forces in Afghanistan.
    3) Demand handing over to Pakistan of the NATO / US Military officials involved in the planning, ordering and implementation of this Attack on Pakistani Posts. (The same way that Ramzi Yousuf, Aimal Kansi and hundreds of Al-Qaeda affiliated fighters were handed over to Americans).
    These officials should be tried in a COURT-OF-LAW in Pakistan and punished for their WAR-CRIMES.
    4) Demand a Blood Money of at least 1 Billion Dollar per head for the Pakistani Soldiers Martyred in the Attack (The same International Laws can be pursued which forced Libya to pay Billions of Dollars to the families of those killed in the 1988 Lockerbe Bombing Case).
    If you support this cause, click on the link below.

    Facebook Group: Pakistanis’ Demand: Govt should take NATO / US Attacks to UN

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  • ed
    Nov 27, 2011 - 11:59AM

    Well said NATO but every time NATO comes up it’s the U.S. who is blamed…As I understand it here are more in NATO than the U.S….Who was in the bird?My personal opinion..Leave let them have their drugs and close the borders to all of those country’s until they can get over their problem with us..If that bothers people here then go home…

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  • A Pakistani being realistic
    Nov 27, 2011 - 12:00PM

    As a Pakistani i have a few questions. The threat from NATO forces on the border with Afghanistan is either a ground assault or an assault from the air. There is nothing much that can be done about the jets but against the Helicopters we have options, the cheapest and most effective being SAM, i would add that Pakistan manufactures ANZA Mark III which can be effective, it has a detachment of 2 and can be deplyed with ease. What i fail to understand is why as always our leadership with figers towards the army fail to realize the threat, we had options but why dont our posts have the ANZA Mark III. The leadership of the army now should also be held responsible, dont only point at NATO, why were we not prepared to counter the threat. The leadership plays a psychological card on our feelings, stop the supplies and condemn, because they know we Pakistanis have short memories. We as a nation should hold the army responsible for failing to deploy measures against the threat.
    God belss Pakistan.

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  • Steve
    Nov 27, 2011 - 12:08PM

    Ok, come on PLEASE
    We send out troops, at our expense and valuable life’s to cover what they (Pakistan) says is under control and not a top priority because (and will not state) they are all interconnected by so many years of sweeping under the carpet and payoffs. We supply billions of support for a country that harbors known extremists and sadly this has all gone to waste! If this is the way they (Pakistan) want to respond then no problem at all. Let’s see how they do without BILLIONS of our taxpayer dollars and use it instead to increase our intelligence and prove what we already know (from a complicated US enrollment) this solution will not be solved by supplying this country a single dime. Enough is enough. Seeing this picture with this article is incredibly disturbing, what a waste! Aid cut off by the government (or what they claim is a government). Unbelievable we allowed this to go this far.

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  • dr.naveed.gul
    Nov 27, 2011 - 12:12PM

    .what if we atttack american forces, the same way they attacked our brothers,in pakistan,

    it is an honour for us to die in the path of ALLAH , wee are proud . has any soldier of US thought that if he dies in such an attack what would be his destinatin?

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  • Steve
    Nov 27, 2011 - 12:13PM

    very poor responce, how about the US gets back the trillions of dollors we have spent and a billion for every US personal your country has killed. @Tehreek-e-Insaf FATA:

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  • KiJ
    Nov 27, 2011 - 12:23PM

    Pakistanis are fed up; they are very fed up… why are our people being killed as if they are dispensable, while the Gov and Military just watch and make political statements?

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  • Onetruegod
    Nov 27, 2011 - 1:29PM

    @Tehreek-e-Insaf FATA:

    Stop hiding extremists. Stop your lies. Maybe then it can stop.

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  • Obaid
    Nov 27, 2011 - 1:54PM

    @Steve: Dont just stop here. Lets go back a bit further. We are in this mess in first place because of the US’s extravaganza for oil and resources. Ask yourselves this question what has US accomplished from all this. Are you more secure than you were before 9/11, We tried to side with US in the Afgan war and it give birth to the Taliban, We didn’t learn our lesson. Now once again we are on this suicide path because of siding with uncle sam.

    You talk about taxpayers money. Well what about the cost of war we have endured. We have paid in blood. Yeah and we should get back a billion for every person killed because of this war. Yes the US should get hell out of this region. US should stop scoring oil from Iraq and the Saudis. Most importantly US tax payers should start saving to pay off China as they own the US

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 27, 2011 - 2:30PM

    First the Rulers in Pakistan need to learn to tell truth to its people !!!
    According to reports in western press, this NATO act was in self defence as they had come under fire, also note that its not so easy to just call in air support without substance of conflict on ground, so there was activity and possible firing from Pak side of border and the rest is Collateral Damage !!!
    In regards to the supply route, well there is already Northern Supply Route in operation since June this year via Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, so Pakistan importance for this is diminishing already and this service is not provided by Pakistan for free, as it earns millions of dollars from this.
    In regards to Shamsie Airbase well One has to get the facts right and the earnest is on Pakistani Govt and Army to disclose as to the facts of the deals made with USA, before issueing statements that have no merit !!!!

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  • Nov 27, 2011 - 6:29PM

    People of Pakistan already angered on the drones attack in tribal areas especially in Waziristan where large number of people has been killed.

    Now direct attacks has begun violating the sovereignty of the country,what is being done is according to the charter of the United nations,it looks clear cut violation of global law enacted by the league of nation.

    What happened there,sleeping soldiers were targeted which create and enhanced hate against the United States,in this way how can the stake holder fighting with terrorists will obtain success against insurgency,very hard.

    Fragile government of Zardari would have to face new challenges after the deadly intrusion and in this way efforts being made against the insurgence might be effected .

    No doubt, Pakistani efforts are being made sincerely and it is the duty of great ally to support other allies with economic aid and other essential materials.

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  • Khidir
    Nov 27, 2011 - 9:07PM

    The PPP is to blame for allowing Pakistan to become a vassal of American masters.
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  • Ashamed
    Nov 28, 2011 - 10:44PM

    Lies, Lies and Lies… “We will not tolerate this kind of attack on our soil next time”…How many times will they repeat this dialogue???
    A question always bothers me a lot; is so called “GHAIRAT” of Pakistan only there against India??? If yes why??? Could anyone answer this question in a sensible way??? I will be grateful for your help!Recommend

  • makd
    Dec 2, 2011 - 7:58AM

    @Steve

    the usa never had any money to give Pakistan , it was all borrowed of china in 1st place etc, it’s only a matter of time before usa goes bankrupt, the usa have lived way beyond their means on borrowed, stolen oil money

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  • makd
    Dec 2, 2011 - 7:59AM

    there are many comments on here by the same people, asking for war and leader of army to step down… this is the USA plan. To pull Pakistan into war…they want to destroy Pakistan before Middle East is attacked by Israel…don’t be fooled so easily.

    Pakistan cannot win this war.. It’s a war of patience and tactics (guerrilla warfare) the only way Pakistan can win.

    USA, Israel, UK, France, Germany etc (NATO) is too much for even Russia or china… Pakistan must avoid this war at any cost…they want pak nukes at any cost

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