Pakistanske militære holdt lørdag en pressebriefing i forkant av NATOs rapport til uken om hva som skjedde da amerikanske fly drepte 24 pakstianske soldater rett over grensen.
Et bevisst angrep, det var ingen misforståelse, hevdet de pakistanske offiserene. Pakistan hevder at USA med overlegg angrep grenseposter hvor de visste det befant seg pakistanske soldater. USA reagerer kraftig på beskyldningene og hevder at man fulgte vanlig prosedyre for å forsikre seg om at det ikke var regjeringssoldater i området.
Briefingen foregikk til overmål i ambassaden i Washington.
Foranledningen var at afghanske og amerikanske soldater ble beskytt inne fra pakistansk område. Slike angrep skjer titt og ofte. Da har amerikanerne fullmakt til å skyte tilbake, men først etter å ha forsikret seg om at det ikke er regjeringssoldater i nærheten. Det ble også gjort denne gangen.
Nei, svarer Pakistan, og hevder at amerikanerne satt og lyttet til at pakistanerne desperat fortalte om angrepet, og likevel fortsatte beskytningen.
Pakistanerne påstår at det ble gitt feil koordinater til pilotene med overlegg for at de skulle bombe regjeringssoldater. Det er en uhyre grov påstand. Det er vanskelig å forestille seg hvordan samarbeidet kan overleve slik mistillit.
Pakistani military officials at the briefing contended that NATO forces knew they were firing at Pakistani troops throughout the attack and even apologized as they kept firing, evidence they say supports their assertions the attack was deliberate.
At issue is whether Pakistani troops were the target of the attacks.
The Pakistani officials at the briefing argued that well-established operating procedures and an intricate system for operational information sharing were deliberately ignored, which led to the tragic incident that killed 24 Pakistani «martyrs.»
American officials told CNN that U.S. forces checked first with their Pakistani counterparts before launching the strike. Before calling in airstrikes, the U.S. forces checked with a Pakistani liaison team. They were not seeking permission — because the airstrikes were described as a matter of self-defense — but were making sure Pakistani troops weren’t in what was called a poorly marked border area, the officials said.
After that consultation, the U.S. believed there were no Pakistani forces nearby, which turned out not to be true.
U.S. military officials would not comment on the Pakistani assertions, citing the ongoing investigation. But in the past few weeks, U.S. officials have denied vehemently the charge by Pakistan’s military that this was a deliberate attack.
«What I can say, absolutely, and I can’t imagine anyone in this room wouldn’t believe me — we did not attack a border post, a Pakistan military border post, intentionally,» Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a speech in Washington last week. «If you think we did, I’d have to ask you in return what in the world would we hope to gain by doing that? So I can say that categorically.
Dempsey said, «They believe we did this intentionally in some way to either discredit them or goad them into further action.»
Pentagon spokesman George Little said, «We know enough at this point to say with certainty this was not an intentional attack on Pakistani forces. The Pakistanis are our partners; it defies reason that we would attack them.»
But Pakistani officials at the embassy briefing said that not only were the coordinates incorrect, covering an area nine miles north of the attack, but Pakistan’s chain of command was in the process of reviewing them when NATO helicopters began the striking Pakistani outpost «Volcano» shortly after midnight. Pakistan only returned fire after its first post was fired upon, which prompted NATO to strike against the second post, «Boulder,» the officials said, adding that the commanding officer who ran up the hill to the area with a rescue team was killed.
A NATO officer at the joint coordination outpost in the area even apologized to his Pakistani liaison in the middle of the attack for relaying the wrong location of the area NATO planes were about to fire on, preventing Pakistan from warning this was a friendly post, according to the Pakistani officials. Even after NATO officer acknowledged at about 1:15 a.m. that it was firing on the outposts and confirmed it was pulling back its helicopters, the Pakistanis maintain there was continued fire on the two posts by U.S. attack helicopters and an AC-130 gunship for about another hour until about 2:20 a.m. Neither claim could be verified with NATO and American officials.