WASHINGTON: US on Friday said that Pakistan had been invited to join an investigation into the cross border North Atlantic Treaty Organistaion (Nato) bombing of a Pakistani check post. However, Pakistan had elected not to participate in the investigation.
A Nato air strike – which Pakistan terms as ‘deliberate’, took place in the early hours of November 26, when Nato air craft providing close air support to ground troops attacked a Pakistani check post and then subsequent support troops which rushed to the site located in Mohmand on Pak-Afghan border. The attack killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers and wounded a further 12.
Addressing a press conference at the Department of Defense, the Pentagon Press Secretary George Little in response to a question said that the relationship with Pakistan was critical. “We are partners with Pakistan … We will be working over time to resolve our differences over this and other matters.”
Captain John Kirby, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, said that the Nato airstrike “has had a chilling effect on our relationship with the Pakistani military.”
Referring to General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s letter to his troops, Captain Kirby said, “Every sovereign nation has the right of self-defense and the right to order their troops to defend themselves. So do we. We respect that right of his.”
In response to a question about Pakistan’s decision to cease co-operation with the US and Afghan forces along the border, Kirby said that they hoped that they would be able to continue the kind of coordination and communication that they had been working on with Pakistan before this incident. “There had been a lot of effort put into our coordination on border control centres with Pakistanis before this incident, we hope that the same level of effort can continue.”
Regarding the Nato airstrike, Little reiterated, that this was “not in any way, shape or form an intentional attack by US military on Pakistan.”
Kirby said that the incident was a military engagement, and declined to provide further comments, saying the matter was still under investigation.
The two spokespersons also declined to comment directly on the effect of the Nato supply routes closure on US troops, calling it a logistical matter. Captain Kirby said that the US had alternatives and options.
Warren Weinstein and al Qaeda
In response to a question on Warren Weinstein and the authenticity of al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zwahiri’s claim that the kidnapped aid worker was in their custody, Captain Kirby said that they could not comment on the al Qaeda report yet.
Little though called for Weinstein’s immediate release.