Pakistan official denies OK given for NATO air strike

Published: December 2, 2011
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Activists of Sunni Tehreek (ST) set fire to the portraits of US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as they shout slogans during a demonstration in Karachi on December 1 , 2011. PHOTO: AFP

Activists of Sunni Tehreek (ST) set fire to the portraits of US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as they shout slogans during a demonstration in Karachi on December 1 , 2011. PHOTO: AFP

A Pakistani official on Friday denied a Wall Street Journal report that Pakistani officials gave the go-ahead to a NATO air strike that killed 24 troops, unaware that their own forces were in the area.

Last weekend’s cross-border attack has caused public outrage in Pakistan, the government has pulled out of next week’s international conference on Afghanistan and threatened to end  support for the US-led war there if its sovereignty is violated again.

A Pakistani military official categorically denied the Journal’s account, saying the aircraft had already engaged when Pakistan was contacted.

“Wrong information about the area of operation was provided to Pakistani officials a few minutes before the strike,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media.

“Without getting clearance from the Pakistan side, the post had already been engaged by US helicopters and fighter jets. Pakistan did not have any prior information about any operation in the area.”

The US officials, giving their first detailed explanation of the worst friendly-fire incident of the 10-year-old war, told the Wall Street Journal an Afghan-led assault force that included US commandos was hunting Taliban militants when it came under fire from an encampment along the border with Pakistan.

The commandos thought they were being fired on by militants but they turned out to be Pakistani military personnel who had established a temporary campsite, they were quoted as saying.

According to the initial US account from the field, the commandos requested air strikes against the encampment, prompting the team to contact a joint border-control centre to determine whether Pakistani forces were in the area, a US official said.

The border-control centre is manned by US, Afghan and Pakistani representatives. But the US and Afghan forces conducting the November 26 commando operation had not notified the centre in advance that they planned to strike Taliban insurgents near that part of the border, the official said.

When called, the Pakistani representatives at the centre said there were no Pakistani military forces in the area identified by the commandos, clearing the way for the air strikes, the US officials said.

Washington has called it a tragic accident and offered its condolences, promising a full investigation. It has not apologised.

“There were lots of mistakes made,” the newspaper quoted an official as saying.

The Journal said US officials have in the past expressed reservations about notifying the Pakistanis about operations, concerned the missions’ details could leak out.

It added that the officials cautioned that the preliminary  account was based mainly on interviews with members of the commando team and could change as more information is gathered.

A formal report on the incident is due to be completed by US military investigators by December 23.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Hairaan
    Dec 2, 2011 - 6:20PM

    We believe Pakistan Army.

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  • Dec 2, 2011 - 6:30PM

    I on behalf of my country people, condemns NATO Attack and i asked NATO authorities to give justification and apologize to Pakistan Army and Pakistan Nation

    Otherwise, we as nation will stop your Supply through Pakistan, whatever our Government did, we don’t care for that

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  • Dec 2, 2011 - 6:36PM

    rediculous

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  • samir
    Dec 2, 2011 - 6:37PM

    An Eye opener for Pakistan.
    Follow the news.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-02/pakistan-prepares-for-u-s-attack-bild-reports-citing-document.html

    People will learn more who indirectly made us beggars.Give vote to zardari & nawaz & put yourself on this stage. When people say kill the beggars. Power of vote haha .

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  • G. Din
    Dec 2, 2011 - 6:42PM

    Measure your words carefully. Those who claim the green (pun intended) light from Pakistan do not make irresponsible statements before having a backing for them! You will cut a sorry figure when they produce that backing but that is nothing new for Pakistani officialdom!

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  • Roflcopter
    Dec 2, 2011 - 7:30PM

    With contradictory and pathetic excuses coming from NATO it’s hard not to see who is lying. I fully trust Pak Army in this case.

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  • Mirza
    Dec 2, 2011 - 7:44PM

    NATO is liar not the Pakistan army. Just like NATO countries were making false accusations about the presence of OBL in Pakistan. The whole world knows they are not be believed.

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  • rehan
    Dec 2, 2011 - 7:58PM

    attack on pak forces of usa clears all pakistani that usa is not our friend but usa is our enemy.pakistan should leave war against terror.infact it is war of terror of usa against muslims.usa supports india and nato against pakistan.so pakistan should use mujahiddin against usa.all pakistani will feel very happy if pakistan uses smart atomic bomb against usa and nato forces in afghanistan.but firstly secertly afghan people should be inform to go far from us and nato forces

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  • ashok sai
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:02PM

    I believe the Pakistani version. So sorry for your loss, Pakistani brothers.

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  • desi
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:13PM

    Do you guys in Pakistan now know how it feels when someone from other country kills your people and then lies about who is responsible?
    Do you guys now know that how heart cries and stomach churns when your own brothers get killed for no reason…?
    We indians have gone through this time and again.. Hope estalishment learns something from this incident.

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  • Lady Gaga
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:18PM

    @Hairaan: did you also believe the army and government when they said Mr Osama was not in Pakistan

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  • sonia
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:33PM

    all we r very hyappy kyani orderd to response to pakistani attackers.we hope drown fighters should also be destroy by pak forces

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  • M.Mac
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:33PM

    @Salman Mansoor:
    So ready to condemn. I am willing to see what the investigation reveals. It is not the first time Pakistan force’s have shot at Afgan and NATO force’s without provocation. Pakistan military has many members that support terrorist’s for whatever reason. But for whatever reason, now you are convinced that all fault lie’s with NATO……. Are you using reason or emotion ?

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  • Mansoor
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:35PM

    NATOs account is definitely more believable, makes sense why army never responded or called in Air Force.

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  • Raj
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:36PM

    @Mirza:
    Assume the idiot troll is working on your behalf too !

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  • Umber
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:39PM

    @Salman Mansoor:
    Well you are right but its not the time to apologize because its not the first attack.They did the same thing a while ago and they apologized for that but now they again attacked on our army. We as Pakistanis needs to show them that we are not your beggars.

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  • zainab fatima
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:48PM

    i am surprised, the way people are taking this incident. there should be serious and quick action about it.even we are not clear about it either it was accident or per-planned.

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  • joe
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:56PM

    “told the Wall Street Journal an Afghan-led assault force that included US commandos was hunting Taliban militants”…………you want us to believe Afghan soldiers were leading US commandosRecommend

  • PTI-FAN
    Dec 2, 2011 - 9:07PM

    I wish Pakistan would stop this nasty habit of lying at every turn !! You can’t build a nation on lies. Just look at what we are taught at school. Reality is something else. We are supposed to have won every single war !!!

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  • Jadugar
    Dec 2, 2011 - 9:47PM

    My question is why would the American kill so ruthlessly if they were informed of the camp location. The attack sounds more like retalition by the americans. To have a fire fight for 2 hours tells me that it was no mistake and nor are the Talibans o well equppied or trained to get such a response. The Americans are with holding the apology because they know more then what we have been told. Pakistan I believe is not all that innocent as theywould like their people to believe

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  • maz3tt
    Dec 2, 2011 - 9:51PM

    nato trying to confuse the pakistani public . i am giving benefit of doubt to my Pakistani Army.

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  • Cautious
    Dec 2, 2011 - 9:57PM

    When push comes to shove it all gets down to credibility — unfortunately for Pakistan your credibility index is rock bottom. I also suspect that the USA has some recordings supporting their version of events. Speaking of credibility – hows that Abbottabad investigation goings?

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  • biryani
    Dec 2, 2011 - 10:12PM

    Wrong information about the area of operation was provided to Pakistani officials a few minutes before the strike,” said the official

    so some sort of attack was agreed upon…..?

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  • Tony C.
    Dec 2, 2011 - 10:51PM

    We will probably never know the truth of the matter. All government have their spin doctors, and the U.S. / British have particularly good propaganda machines, which will fudge the issue. The other thing to consider is that nobody in the Western world admits liability. Even in a small matter such as a minor road accident insurance companies warn you not to admit liability. However, what we do know is that U.S. / NATO forces are routinely attacking Pakistani targets, and have been allowed to get away with it for a long time, regardless of Pakistan casualties, which almost always include innocent men, women and children. NATO forces have been getting bolder and bolder as they realize they can get away with it, but this time they went that little bit too far. I can understand that Pakistan will not wish to call these incursions An Act of War, but if Pakistan wishes to stop these type of incidents from happening, they should inform NATO high command that they will not be allowed to violate Pakistan air space again, and if they should do so it will be considered an affront to Pakistan sovereignty, and counter measures will be implemented.. .

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  • Ashar
    Dec 2, 2011 - 11:03PM

    I sometimes wonder if the Nato incident had happened in India, your paper reporting style would have caused an uproar in national media and you would have seen what border and country means to people of the country you are reporting from…no wonder the freedom in our country has gone too far for people like you.

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  • Jinxed
    Dec 2, 2011 - 11:36PM

    One lie leads to many other lies. . . . . this whole war on terror was a Big Fat Lie!

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  • Jim
    Dec 2, 2011 - 11:53PM

    @Hairaan: Sir,
    First, my condolences to your nation’s families that have lost loved ones.
    Second, you may be right that the attack should not have happened. But, until you know more of the facts you should withhold judgement.
    Third, I know our procedures and we would not have performed an air-strike on EITHER side of the border without clearance from ground controllers. The pilots of the aircraft rarely can visually even see the targets in detail. They are travelling at very high speeds which, even with the best of circumstances, mean they cannot easily tell friend from foe quickly. They operate by input from the ground controllers. So, the troops that fired on the US led forces started the problem. Now, I will also grant you that the Pakistani troops may not have known who they were firing at either. They did not expect to see a US force there. They were there to interdict terrorists to reduce their terrorist operations inside Pakistan.
    Fourth, The ground controllers clearly failed to fully and properly communicate whose personnel were where. The Pakistani’s did not realize they had personnel there and the US controllers did not realize the US ground forces were actually being fired on by Pakistani forces. We’re supposed to be allies. It is not logical that the US forces intentionally targeted the Pakistani troops KNOWING that they were Pakistani troops. The US forces would have withdrawn from the area if they had known who was firing on them until they could communicate with the personnel doing the firing.

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  • Raj
    Dec 3, 2011 - 1:01AM

    @Cautious:
    US are not in the habit of making claims of this nature, without some evidence to back up for incidents of this seriousness !!!
    People, all will come in public domain as its in US’s domain and not Pakistan’s !!
    So at least it will be made public unlike in pakistan, where everything is shoved under pretext of National Security and it never sees the daylight !!!

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  • Karachiite
    Dec 3, 2011 - 1:12AM

    Enviable performance of Mr Kayani and his team!!!
    – Lost more than 30,000 civilian lives in the last few years and still the killers are at large at their free will.
    – The society is fragmented in the name of religion, sect, lingual affiliation etc and the only policy maker cum actual owners of Pakistan are raising toasts at their lavish colonies
    – Almost all of country resources are sold out to US Masters and the unscrupulous owners of land of pure are defiant to even tell the nation that we are already sold.
    – Attack on GHQ which resulted into an impasse for around 24 hrs (speechless)
    – Raymond Davis was discreetly released by the gang of profligates; news was aired only to embarrass us after him reaching home safely
    – OBL was found at military academy enjoying the hospitality for years by Americans who once again debilitate our dignity and self pride by not only entering Pakistan’s borders but completed their mission without the finesse and went back safely
    – Mehran Base (i am out of words to say anything here)
    – Attacks on Pakistani check posts and the saviors of my motherland were enjoying sound sleep at their comfy homes

    INTERESTINGLY NOT EVEN A SINGLE RESIGNATION – WHAT AN EXAMPLE OF MORAL DECADENCE

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  • MarkH
    Dec 3, 2011 - 7:26AM

    @sonia:
    drown fighters? Is that some kind of secret elite combat force that specializes in water boarding or something?

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  • numbersnumbers
    Dec 3, 2011 - 8:20AM

    This whole tragedy will finally revolve around the basic issues of who knew what and when! There are probably hours and hours of communication log tapes, personal interviews, gun camera image recordings, etc etc to be resolved. However, in the end, when ISAF forces called the coordination command centre about the identity of unknown forces, we read that “When called, the Pakistani representatives (plural, means more than one) at the centre said there were no Pakistani military forces in the area identified by the commandos, clearing the way for the air strikes, the US officials said”.
    These Pakistani representatives, along with everyone else in the command centre or on the com link repeaters during this incident, will be asked to vouch for that statement. Lets wait and see where the truth takes us!

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  • Basit
    Dec 3, 2011 - 12:21PM

    @Mirza:
    Show body of Osama as proof first. You’re just trying to be more loyal than the King by believe everything a gora tells you.

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  • malik
    Dec 3, 2011 - 12:34PM

    If Pak did not give the OK for going ahead with the aerial attack then why should it shy away from joining the NATO investigation?Recommend

  • observer
    Dec 3, 2011 - 2:30PM

    @Hairan

    We believe Pakistan Army.

    @Roflcopter

    I fully trust Pak Army in this case.

    On 24th April, Gen Kayani made a speech at the Kakul Academy. On the 2nd of May Kakul became famous for other reasons.

    Believe what you will, but at your own peril.

    http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/23/general-kayani-says-militants%E2%80%99-back-broken.html

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  • Habibullah Mahboob
    Dec 4, 2011 - 2:48PM

    According to my point of view the attack which has carried out last week someone has already know about already,it can happen with the help of millitary whose already engaged in same operation in the past against TTP in tribal areas.

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  • Noman
    Dec 4, 2011 - 11:06PM

    IF ONE NATO/ American Air attack coming from Afghan airspace is such a BIG CRIME imagine how BIG is the CRIME of allowing and facilitating 70,000 SEVENTY THOUSAND SORTIES OF NATO/AMERICAN AIRCRAFT FROM PAKISTAN AIRFIELDS INTO AFGHANISTAN AND HOW ABOUT ALLOWING 300 SUPPLY TRUCKS/TANKERS TO NATO/ AMERICAN FORCES FROM PAKISTAN DAILY SINCE 2001. Pakistan army and establishment is a PARTNER in this great crime with the American Establishment..

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