ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army on Monday rejected US findings on last year’s Nato cross-border air attack that killed 24 of its soldiers, terming the incident a failure on the part of Washington and linking it to a lack of unified military command in Afghanistan.
“US/Isaf (International Security Assistance Force) violated all mutually agreed procedures with Pakistan for near-border operations put in place to avert such uncalled for actions,” said a 25-page statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The US investigation report, released on December 22, found that both American and Pakistani forces were to blame for the incident in Mohmand Agency, which had inflamed already strained ties.
“Pakistan does not agree with several portions and findings of the investigation report as these are factually not correct,” according to the ISPR report.
Pakistan Army, on its part, had on numerous occasions and at all levels highlighted the potential problems associated with not having all the forces in the Afghan theatre under a unified command, the statement added.
“This is disturbingly indicative of fundamental flaws in the US/Isaf/Nato procedures.”
The army further expressed its annoyance that the US military in its report considered its Pakistani counterpart in an ‘adversarial role’ and not a friend.
“Implicit in the mandate is the fact that Pakistan was considered in an adversarial role and not part of friendly forces.”
The military also expressed regret over the mandate and terms of reference given to the investigating team, which was not mandated to determine or affix responsibility for the incident.
Despite promises of thorough investigations, the US/Isaf failed to hold anyone accountable after each of these incidents, the ISPR statement said.
“Affixing partial responsibility of the incident on Pakistan is therefore unjustified and unacceptable,” it added.
Furthermore, the army regretted that in an effort to provide justification for Nato/Isaf actions, the US investigation report had gone to extreme lengths to construct the whole incident as an act of self defence.
ISPR further noted that there were instructions given to US personnel, as mentioned in the US/Isaf investigation report, wherein information to Pakistan military was to be deliberately withheld. “Had the disclosure been honest and as per the agreed procedures, the attacks could have been stopped at the earliest and precious lives saved,” it stated.
Moreover, the military regretted that the impartiality and transparency of the US investigation was adversely affected when senior US officials repeatedly stated that the incident was “not intentional”, without waiting for completion of the investigation.
The army also sought additional details from Isaf and Nato to complete its investigations into the incident.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2012.