Entries in Pakistan Army (8)


US Takes Some Blame in Deadly Pakistan Friendly Fire Incident

Photos [dot] com/George Doyle/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- A United States military investigation has accepted some blame for the deadliest friendly-fire incident of the Afghan war, but ultimately concluded the airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month were justified -- findings expected to infuriate an already angry Pakistani public and military.

The highly anticipated results released Thursday admit the U.S. provided "incorrect mapping information" that led to a, "misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units."  But a senior U.S. official says there will be no apology for an attack that sparked massive protests across Pakistan and led Pakistan's government to cut off NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military declined to comment until it has the time to review the official report.  But in interviews with Pakistani military and government officials before the release, they made clear that the anger in Pakistan with the U.S. over the incident was so high, that anything short of a formal apology could permanently imperil the NATO supply line, bilateral cooperation on intelligence and the future of Afghanistan.

The U.S. investigation found that in the early hours of Nov. 26, an American special operation forces team and their Afghan counterparts were fired upon from inside Pakistan, according to defense officials.  They believed that militants had targeted them, and called in air support.

"U.S. forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon,” according to a Pentagon statement.

Pakistan never told NATO that it had set up the two small outposts that were attacked, according to the U.S. account, and therefore the air support felt free to shoot.

"There were mistakes made by both sides," a defense official told ABC News, adding that no decisions had been made about whether to hold any service member accountable.

"We have accepted responsibility for our mistakes," Department of Defense spokesman Capt. John Kirby told ABC News. "We have expressed condolences and regrets.”

But the U.S. narrative differs fundamentally to that provided by Pakistani military officers in both Washington and Islamabad.

Before the attack began, according to the Pakistani military accounts, a U.S. soldier at a Border Coordination Center handed over coordinates to his Pakistani colleagues from which he said the U.S./Afghan team was taking fire.  Those coordinates were 10 miles north of base Volcano, according to the Pakistani military.  Just as the Pakistani officers were reviewing the coordinates, the attack began.

Moments later, a NATO officer, "apologized for sending incorrect coordinates and confirmed that NATO helicopters had actually attacked" Volcano, according to a written account provided to Congress by Pakistan's lobbying firm in Washington, Locke Lord Strategies.

During the attack, according to the Pakistani account, soldiers from nearby base Boulder fired illuminating rounds as a way to signal to the NATO helicopters -- not the mortar and artillery the U.S. claims. The NATO helicopters then begun to attack Boulder.

"Any allegation that the NATO troops thought that they were firing on insurgents when they attacked the Volcano and Boulder observation posts is baseless," reads the Pakistani document.  "NATO was aware that the bases were there when they fired on them. NATO troops are also well aware that terrorists seeking refuge in mountainous areas install themselves in ravines and deep valleys which provide cover from aerial attacks -- not in plain sight on the top of a mountain."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pakistani Troops Allowed to Retaliate If NATO Attacks Again

Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on right. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistani commanders deployed along the Afghan border have the authority to fire at NATO troops and helicopters without seeking prior permission, according to a new “command communiqué” from Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The communiqué -- delivered in writing to all commanders in Pakistan -- is an attempt to pacify the overwhelming outrage felt in Pakistan and within its military ranks after 24 soldiers were killed by NATO helicopters last weekend.

It’s not clear if the communiqué changes the existing rules of engagement, but it can easily be used by Pakistani troops on the border as a justification for opening fire on U.S. troops.

“I want to reemphasize and leave no ambiguity in the rules of engagement for everyone, down the chain of command, especially in unit/sub unit commanders, when under attack you have full liberty of action to respond employing all capabilities available at your disposal.  This will require no clearance at any level,” the statement reads.  “All of us have the resolve and faith to go down fighting if required rather than being coerced into a fait accompli.  Be assured that we will not let the aggressor walk away easily.”

Kayani calls last weekend’s attack a “blatant act of aggression.”

The communiqué was delivered as U.S. military officials in Washington briefed reporters on their version of the raid.  The U.S. officials said that a Pakistani officer had approved the cross-border strike after confirming there were no Pakistani soldiers in the area.

Pakistan’s military disputes that.  It acknowledges there was an initial communication by the U.S., but it was limited to a description of fire coming from across the border -- and that just a few minutes later, NATO helicopters attacked the Pakistani bases at least five miles away from where the U.S. said the fire was emanating.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Adm. Mullen Continues Heat on Pakistan over Haqqani Network

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Frustrated by continuing violence in Kabul, Afghanistan, the United States is in the midst of one of its most aggressive attempts to link Pakistan with the militant Haqqani network and convince Pakistan’s military to confront the group believed to have a safehaven within Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The latest push by the U.S. was delivered by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen to Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

In a two hour, one-on-one meeting this weekend, Mullen “conveyed his deep concerns about the increasing -- and increasingly brazen -- activities of the Haqqani network and restated his strong desire to see the Pakistani military take action against them and their safe havens in North Waziristan,” according to his spokesman, Capt. John Kirby.

The Pakistani military did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

In Kabul, U.S. military and civilian officials express a level of frustration with Pakistan that is more overt and public.

Officials use phrases like “the gloves will come off” and the relationship has “turned a corner,” although they don’t seem to know -- or have any unity on -- what steps will come next.

The officials are responding to two major attacks in the last week: the 20-hour siege in Kabul that included six rockets landing inside the U.S. embassy, and a massive truck bomb outside of Kabul that injured 77 NATO service members -- the single largest number of U.S. casualties in any incident in 10 years of war.

U.S. officials blamed both incidents on the Haqqani network, which is believed to operate out of North Waziristan.

The most pointed critique came from the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, who accused the Pakistani government of having direct ties with the Haqqani network.  His assertion was one of the most aggressive statements made in years by a U.S. diplomat serving in Islamabad.

“There is evidence linking the Haqqani Network to the Pakistan government,” Cameron Munter told Radio Pakistan, a state-run news agency, in a remarkably frank comment that “accurately reflected the ambassador’s mood,” according to a U.S. official.  “We have to make sure that the efforts that we are making to build the ties between our intelligence services bring about results,” Munter continued.  “We cannot let events like that happened in Kabul to take place.”

Munter’s pointed criticism is rare coming from a Pakistan-based diplomat, but it was just one of many examples of the U.S. piling pressure on Pakistan since the siege in Kabul.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gen. Petraeus Tries Improving US Relations with Pakistan

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Before leaving his command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus spent Thursday trying to mend fences with Pakistan.

Petraeus, the newly-confirmed CIA director, met with the Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in hopes of smoothing over a very rough patch in relations between Washington and Islamabad that was exacerbated by the U.S. Navy SEALS raid in Pakistan last May that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The Pakistani military and government were not informed about the operation beforehand, which increased already mounting tensions between the two uneasy allies in the battle against Islamic radicals.

A statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said that the meeting, which also included Petraeus' successor in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. John Allen, covered "various topics of mutual interest and ways to improve regional security."

However, relations aren't expected to be repaired overnight, given that Washington wants to hold back $800 million of the $2 billion in annual assistance it provides to the Pakistani military, while Islamabad is still resistant to U.S. demands that it make a more concerted effort to break the back of Taliban and al Qaeda militancy still active in their country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pakistan Detains Senior Officer Suspected of Militant Ties

Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistan's army spokesman has confirmed that a senior army officer has been detained for suspected links with militant groups.

Brigadier Ali Khan was detained last month, subsequent to Osama bin Laden's death.

Khan, a one star army officer serving at Pakistan's army headquarters in Rawalpindi, "has been confined to his house" and is being questioned by army officials, according to spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas.

Formal charges have yet to be placed against Khan. Charges are pending on the interrogation findings.

It is not yet confirmed which militant groups to which he is accused of being linked.

This arrest follows reports by U.S. officials that Pakistan detained five Pakistanis for helping the CIA carry out the American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden last month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Pilots Believe They Crossed into Pakistan, Prompting Firefight (file photo)(ISLAMABAD) -- NATO helicopter pilots may be taking responsibility for the exchange of fire that broke out between them and Pakistani troops on the ground earlier this week.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez told ABC News that the pilots believe they crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan on Tuesday, violating Pakistani air space and prompting soldiers at a nearby post to fire at the aircraft.  The pilots said they had been under fire all day from insurgents along the border and might have accidently crossed over into Pakistan.

The incident in North Waziristan on Tuesday left two Pakistani troops injured.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NATO Choppers, Pakistani Troops Exchange Fire Near Afghan Border (file photo)(ISLAMABAD) -- An exchange of fire between NATO helicopters and Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan Tuesday left two Pakistani troops injured and questions as to why the firing took place.

According to the Pakistani Army, the helicopters crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan, prompting soldiers at a nearby post to fire at the aircraft for violating Pakistani air space.

However, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it received fire from across the border -- while the choppers were still in Afghanistan.  A U.S. military official said the helicopters did not return fire until they were shot at for a second time.

The same U.S. military official said ISAF is checking equipment on board the helicopters to see if they crossed the border at any time during the incident.

The Pakistani Army has lodged a complaint and is requesting a flag meeting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Several Dead, Wounded After Clash Between Pakistani, Afghan Troops

USGS [dot] gov(ISLAMABAD) -- An attack between Afghan and Pakistani soldiers at an army post in Pakistan Wednesday morning left multiple soldiers dead and wounded on both sides, according to officials.

According to a Pakistani military official, the Afghan National Army began firing artillery rounds on a Pakistan Army post in Angoor Ada, a village in South Waziristan, around 10:30 a.m.  The Pakistan Army then retaliated, firing back at Afghan Army positions.

Three ANA soldiers were killed in the attack and four Pakistani soldiers were wounded.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio