Pakistan rejects US probe into border deaths

The military says US findings on deadly border strike that left two dozen Pakistani soldiers dead is “short on facts”.

Inside Story: End of US-Pakistan cooperation?

Pakistan has rejected the conclusions of a US investigation into a NATO air strike that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers last month along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

In a statement on Friday, Pakistan’s military said the inquiry report was “short on facts”.

“Pakistan’s army does not agree with the findings of the US/NATO inquiry as being reported in the media,” the statement said.

“(A) detailed response will be given as and when the formal report is received,” it said.

US officials, unveiling the results of their investigation into the November 25-26 incident that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead, said on Thursday that both the US and Pakistan were to blame.

The inquiry, headed by a top US general, said on Thursday that the soldiers’ deaths were partly rooted in an “overarching lack of trust” between the US and Pakistan, as well as several key communication errors and misunderstandings.

Admitting blame

Brigadier-General Stephen Clark, an air force special operations officer who led the investigation into the incident, said “the US forces used the wrong maps, were unaware of Pakistani border post locations and mistakenly provided the wrong location for the troops”.

Clark described a confusing series of gaffes rooted in the fact that US and Pakistan do not trust each other enough to provide details about their locations and military operations along the border.

“As a result, US forces on that dark, November 26 night thought they were under attack, believed there were no Pakistani forces in the area, and called in air strikes on what they thought were enemy insurgents,” he said.

The US military admitted it was partly to blame for the strike, but it did not offer an apology. In a statement, it said its investigation into the incident revealed that there was “no intentional effort to target persons or places known to be part of the Pakistani military”.

The Pentagon said that “the US wants to learn from the mistakes and take any corrective measures needed to make sure such mistakes are not repeated”.

“For the loss of life and for the lack of proper co-ordination between US and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses, we express our deepest regret,” George Little, Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.


The NATO alliance agreed with the inquiry’s findings, adding that both sides had made mistakes in the incident, and that forces were unable “to properly co-ordinate their locations and actions, both before the operation and during the resulting engagement”.

NATO also said that the combined force did not knowingly fire at the Pakistani forces.

“The investigation has substantiated that close air support was employed in self-defence in response to intense, heavy machine gun and mortar fire initiated by what turned out to be Pakistan forces near the border in the vicinity of Salala,” a NATO press statement said.

Pakistan has sought a full apology from US President Barack Obama for the strikes, and some officials have alleged it was a deliberate assault on Pakistani troops.

Since the November 26 attack, the Pakistani government has shut down NATO supply routes to Afghanistan and forced the US to shut its operation from Shamsi air base in southwestern Baluchistan province.

The base was used to maintain drones deployed in strikes against armed groups hiding in safe havens in Pakistan’s tribal belt on the Afghan frontier.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies