Pakistan defends lack of action
ISLAMABAD / WASHINGTON
Pakistan’s army chief Kayani (R) shakes hands with Pakistani PM Gilani.A communication breakdown that caused confusion prevented Pakistan’s air force from defending troops during the deadly NATO bombing last weekend of two border outposts, the military said Dec. 2, responding to rare domestic criticism of the powerful institution.
The Pakistani military has said the attack that killed 24 troops was an “act of deliberate aggression” that went on for close to two hours. A Pakistani military statement Dec. 2 said the response could have been more “effective” if the air force had been called in, but this was not possible because of a “breakdown of communication” and confusion at “various levels” within the organization.
The incident has pushed already strained ties between Washington and Islamabad over the future of Afghanistan close to rupture. Islamabad has closed its eastern border to NATO supplies traveling into landlocked Afghanistan and said it is reviewing its cooperation with Washington.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal cited U.S. officials who were briefed on the preliminary investigation into the incident saying that Pakistani officials gave the green light for the NATO strikes. The officials told the Journal that an Afghan-led force including U.S. commandos was pursuing Taliban fighters near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border when they came under fire from what they thought was a militant encampment.
When they called in air strikes on the camp, team members contacted a joint command-and-control center manned by U.S., Afghan and Pakistani troops, and Pakistani representatives said there were no friendly forces in the area, clearing the way for the air assault, the officials told the Journal.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff. AFP photo