Archive for November, 2011

Pak has permanently stopped NATO supply: Malik

Islamabad: Pakistan has permanently stopped passage of NATO supply through the country following an airstrike that left 25 soldiers dead, said Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Rehman Malik on Sunday said that the supply of NATO through Pakistan has not been suspended, rather it has been stopped permanently.

As many as 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed and 15 were injured after NATO helicopters from Afghanistan attacked a border checkpost in Mohmand tribal region near the Afghan border early Saturday, leading to Islamabad lodging a strong protest with Washington.

Talking to reporters here, Rehman Malik strongly condemned the NATO attack on Pakistani forces.

“NATO force should respect feelings of Pakistani nation,” Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Rehman Malik as saying.

He said the country was aggrieved at the soldiers’ death in the wake of NATO attack on Salala post in Mohmand Agency.

The minister said that NATO containers which have been stopped would not be allowed to cross the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

On September 30 last year, the NATO supply was halted by Islamabad following an air attack at a checkpost of paramilitary forces in Kurram Agency area that left some Pakistani armed forces personnel dead. The attack caused severe outrage in Pakistan and the matter was taken up by the government with NATO high command.

The supply of oil and other logistics for NATO troops in Afghanistan had then resumed from Torkham border in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province after a 10-day break.

NATO forces are fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2001 and use land route from Pakistan’s northwestern and southwestern provinces to carry logistics. Dozens of NATO oil tankers have been attacked and set ablaze by the Taliban in Pakistan.

November 28, 2011 Posted Under: News update   Read More

China shocked, Pakistan fumes over NATO attack

By Qasim Nauman and Zeeshan Haider

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s ally China said on Monday it was “deeply shocked” by a cross-border attack by NATO forces in Afghanistan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at the weekend, with Islamabad denying reports the NATO troops had first come under fire.

The deadly cross-border raid has ratcheted up tensions that were already running high at a time when deep cooperation is needed between the NATO mission and Pakistan to stabilise Afghanistan as the United States tries to wind up the war there.

Adding a new element to those tensions, and a diplomatic boost for Islamabad, China’s Foreign Ministry said it was “deeply shocked” by the incident and expressed “strong concern for the victims and profound condolences for Pakistan”.

“China believes that Pakistan’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and the incident should be thoroughly investigated and be handled properly,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement on the ministry’s website.

Pakistan has been trying to move closer to Asian powerhouse China as ties with the United States have suffered.

China and Pakistan call each other “all-weather friends” and their close ties have been underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence across the region.

Earlier, Pakistan’s military denied reports that NATO forces in Afghanistan had come under fire before launching the cross-border attack.

“This is not true. They are making up excuses. What are their losses, casualties?” army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said in a mobile phone text message on Monday.

NATO described the killings as a “tragic, unintended incident” and said an investigation was underway. A Western official and an Afghan security official who requested anonymity said NATO troops were responding to fire from across the border.

Pakistan’s military said the strike was unprovoked and has reserved the right to retaliate.

It’s possible both explanations are correct: that a retaliatory attack by NATO troops took a tragic, mistaken turn in harsh terrain where differentiating friend from foe can be difficult.

After a string of deadly incidents in the lawless and confusing border region, NATO and Pakistan set up a hotline that should allow them to communicate in case of confusion over potential targets, or if they believe they are coming under fire from friendly forces.

It is not clear if the hotline was used, either before or after the strike that killed the Pakistani soldiers.

The attack was the latest perceived provocation by the United States, which infuriated Pakistan’s powerful military in May with a unilateral special forces raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Washington had been trying to repair ties badly damaged by the bin Laden affair and several other issues — including accusations that Pakistan’s military spy agency was backing militants who bomb U.S. targets in Kabul.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Islamabad and held a town hall meeting to try and win over Pakistanis, held talks with her counterpart and called on all sides to work for peace in Afghanistan.

Any goodwill secured from the trip probably evaporated after the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) strike, which fueled a wave of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

Aside from growing anger on the street, newspaper editorials are filled with sharp criticism of the United States and NATO.

“This is time for U.S./NATO/ISAF forces to understand the dark side of wanting to go it alone and think about accepting Pakistani offers for enhanced coordination,” said The News.

BEFITTING RESPONSE

The mass-circulation Urdu language press went further.

“We have to send a clear and unequivocal message to NATO and America that our patience has run out. If even a single bullet of foreign forces crosses into our border, then two fires will be shot in retaliation,” said Jang newspaper.

“God forbid in future if something like this happened then our armed forces have to give a befitting response.”

The NATO strike has shifted attention away from what critics say is Pakistan’s failure to go after militants who cross the border to attack U.S.-led NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan vowed to back the U.S. global war on militancy launched after al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and won billions of dollars in aid in return.

But the unstable, nuclear-armed country has often been described as an unreliable ally, and the United States has had to resort to controversial drone aircraft strikes against militants on Pakistani territory to pursue its aims.

U.S. frustrations grew so much that President Barack Obama ordered that the raid that killed bin Laden deep inside Pakistan be kept secret, knowing it could make the United States even more unpopular in Pakistan.

Pakistan shut down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan in retaliation for the weekend shooting incident, the worst of its kind since Islamabad allied itself with Washington in 2001.

Pakistan is the route for nearly half of NATO supplies shipped overland to its troops in Afghanistan. Land shipments account for about two thirds of the alliance’s cargo.

A similar incident on Sept 30, 2010, which killed two Pakistani service personnel, led to the closure of one of NATO’s supply routes through Pakistan for 10 days.

Few believe the strategic alliance between Pakistan and the United States will break, even though the aggrieved military — the South Asian nation’s most powerful institution — may now feel it needs to assert itself.

Both sides are likely to opt for damage control and then confidence-building measures — the usual pattern in a frequently troubled relationship.

November 28, 2011 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Pakistan army rejects NATO ‘regrets’ over attack

The Army has rejected regrets from the U.S. and NATO over the killing of 24 soldiers in Friday’s deadly and attack on two border posts in the country’s tribal region.
“The NATO strike can have grave consequences,” the army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said Monday.
NATO Secretary General Sunday expressed regret over the losses of Pakistani soldiers and supported investigation into the incident, which sparked angry reaction in Pakistan and the government closed supply line for foreign troops in Afghanistan.
“NATO regret over the killing of Pakistani soldier is not enough,” military spokesman told the BBC Urdu language service.
“We think this is not enough and we do not accept it. Such raids have also been conducted in the past. Such attacks are unacceptable,” General Abbas said.

He said Pakistani leadership will decide what more steps should be taken in reaction to the NATO strikes in Mohmand tribal region along the Afghan border.
The army says that NATO fighter planes and helicopters struck two border posts between the night of Friday and Saturday, killing 24 soldiers and injuring 13 others. Two officers were among those died.
NATO sources have claimed that its special mission had come under attack from Pakistani soil.
But the Director General Inter-Services Public Relations rejected the NATO claim and said NATO will have to tell if any NATO personnel died in Pakistani attack.
“It is ridicules to find out justification for NATO unprovoked attack through such notions,” General Abbas said.
When his attention was drawn to the NATO chief statement that the strike was an accident, the spokesman said that it will prove after investigation is completed. He said the NATO representatives were informed when them started firing.
“The NATO representatives were told to immediately stop firing but the attacks continued”.
“When our people were martyred and NATO continued more firing then Pakistani troops exercised its right of defence to respond to stop NATO attacks,” the army spokesman said.
“Investigation will prove whether or not Pakistani fire hit them,” General Abbas said.
The army spokesman that 72 Pakistani soldiers have been killed and nearly 250 injured in NATO strikes in three years

November 28, 2011 Posted Under: News update   Read More