Pakistan insists NATO attack was deliberate
December 16th, 2011
11:31 AM ET

Pakistan insists NATO attack was deliberate

Pakistan is sticking by its contention that the NATO strike last month that killed more than two dozen Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border was deliberate.

In an effort to pre-empt the results of NATO's official investigation, due out next week, the Pakistani embassy invited reporters for a detailed briefing to present their side of the story.

Pakistani officials contended that NATO forces knew they were firing at Pakistani troops throughout the attack and even apologized as they kept firing, evidence which they say supports their claims the attack was deliberate.

U.S. officials have said since the attack that it was a regrettable case of mistaken identity and miscommunication when NATO attacked the area in support of a nearby U.S.-Afghan joint patrol which believed it was under fire from the Taliban.

"I have a story to tell and this is the story of those brave people who left us in the middle of a cold, November night on a barren mountain top," a senior Pakistani defense official began.

Using maps, photographs and PowerPoint charts, he offered a painstaking re-creation of the incident from the Pakistani military's point of view, based on interviews with surviving troops and local residents where the attack took place.

He and other officials at the briefing spoke on the condition of anonymity, preferring for their military and civilian leadership in Pakistan to speak on the record.

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 American 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 claims, citing the ongoing investigation. But in the past few weeks, U.S. officials have denied vehemently the Pakistani charge 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," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey 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."

"They believe we did this intentionally in some way to either discredit them or goad them into further action," Dempsey said last week about the Pakistani motivation for making the claim.

"We know enough at this point to say with certainty this was not an intentional attack on Pakistani forces," Pentagon Spokesman George Little insisted. "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.

Could NATO forces have mistaken the two border posts on the Afghan border for extremist bases, as US officials have suggested?

Highly unlikely, the senior Pakistani defense official said at the briefing.  First of all, the structures stood on in plain view on the top of a barren ridge - a place he said, which terrorists probably wouldn't be inclined to use a hideout.  Photos of both posts which suffered the attack show the structures made of stone and sandbags sitting on high ground.

A slide at the presentation entitled "Mistaken Identity Not Possible" tried to further casts doubt on the U.S. argument.

The slide detailed several ways Pakistan and its NATO counterparts keep track of each other's activities at the border.

The officials claimed that NATO was even monitoring the Pakistani border posts' radio transmissions reporting it was under fire by NATO aircraft.

What's more, he said, the Pakistani military has shown its counterparts at several coordination centers maps of where it has outposts so as to avoid such misunderstandings.

"It's something which just doesn't make any sense to me given the kind of coordination mechanism we have, the kind of information-sharing we have, given the fact that these locations are mutually known to both sides," he said.

The official would not speculate as to why NATO would deliberately attack two Pakistani outposts about 300 yards from the border, but would only say this was the official conclusion of the Pakistani leadership.

The incident has exacerbated an already fractious relationship between the United States and Pakistan, whose military has been on the defensive since the secret raid by U.S. Navy SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden.

Since the May attack on bin Laden's compound in Abbotabad, close to Pakistani military installations, tensions have been at record levels. But last months attack seems to have been the last straw, with Pakistan shutting NATO supply routes until it receives an official apology.

The United States has expressed "condolences" for the loss of the Pakistani soldiers but won't go as far as to issue an "apology" until the NATO investigation is complete. Pakistan has explicitly refused to coordinate with investigation, claiming it doesn't trust NATO.

Regardless of the results of the investigation, officials say the incident has further solidified Pakistani military and public opinion against cooperation with NATO and the United States.

"There is a sense of outrage," one senior official said. "It's there on the street, amongst the leadership - political as well as military - and among the rank and file of the military. The sheer magnitude of this thing is unbelievable."

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Assunta Lecoultre

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    March 24, 2021 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  2. Myung Kapsos

    It's hard to say

    February 7, 2021 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  3. SNAKE

    more than likely NATO forces were attacking taliban as they were running for cover to the bases of their PAKISTANI FRIENDS. nato was being shot at by taliban and pakistani army so they only got what they deserved.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  4. khalidqureshi

    usa is big but ussr was bigger,itfelt to the ground,its only a matter of time,usa will fall,when God wants something to happen it tells thet thing to happen,indeed God is greater then your usa,but you dont know thet because you a kaffir

    December 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  5. jack

    pakistan can kiss my a$$

    December 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
  6. aaron

    accidents happen.... housing bin laden near islamabad was no "accident"

    supporing haqani which did the mumbai hotel attack was no accident either. I'm not mathmatician here but this cow poo doesn't add up

    December 17, 2011 at 5:31 am | Reply
  7. billybob

    It is time to carpet bomb Pakistan. The women cook their husbands, the government harbors terrorists and the whole country is a dung heap of rags. Destroy Pakistan before they do us any more damage.

    December 17, 2011 at 4:45 am | Reply
  8. AlexShch

    Just reading this article and the comments after one should realize that The World consists of three parts

    1. United States and its so called "allies" and "coalitions of willing",

    2. Al Qaeda, Taliban, and their various "brothers", and

    3. The Rest of the World comprising over 90% of The World population who is not engaged into US war on terror one way or the other, does not want to be engaged or having to do anything with it, and for whom Ms. Clinton running around and advancing the war agenda is merely a nuisance and irritation.

    December 17, 2011 at 12:46 am | Reply
    • khalidqureshi

      usa is looking for a foe and inshahallah,God willing it will find one,and this one will be stronger and powerfull then the ussr,this one will be blessed by God allmighty

      December 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Reply
      • blah

        when did cnn start letting radical suicide vest wearing islamic fundamentalists post on their forums??? NONE i repeat NONE of the BS you spread is founded in fact, you can't kill innocents in the name of whatever god your twisted feeble mind believes is talking to you, the voices in your head are nothing more then your pure schizophrenic thoughts. people like you that are so narrow minded that they let a book tell you whats right instead of using your god given free will and logic to determine are the root of the worlds problems. do us a favor and blow yourself up.

        December 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  9. Sayan Majumdar

    NATO has merely “performed” the standard tactics the Pakistanis themselves perpetually “hold patent”, namely doublespeak and backstabbing.

    It is a classic case of “pay back in their own coin”.


    December 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  10. dewey

    It wont be long before America has to invade some other country ,
    1st America is broke , war generates allot of money for the big corporations . even know it farther bleeds America's economy , the economy and citizens in America matter for nothing . the only thing that matters is profits to big business

    2nd there's NO work in America , The American government has out sourced this nation to economic death , with the return of all the troops from the middle east unemployment will again skyrocket to new all time highs , Unemployment rates are already staggering . Far worse than they look on paper , once you take into account to 10s of thousands of persons in America that have exhausted the unemployment benefits and are no longer counted in the national unemployment charts.

    and 3rd Obama and his staff know for a fact , there is no reelection in there future . its been a presidential ploy for many years now to start a big war before election time rolls around to enable a sorry president to retain the seat for a extra term , This method to hold the presidential seat of power has been used sense the early 1800s.

    America VIA NATO most likely did do this on purpose in hopes of a swift retaliation , opening the door for America to declare a new war , which will retain Obama and his cabinet 1 more term in office.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  11. Skorpio

    Among Muslims, It is always a common tactic to blame the other party. This is part of their Islamic rhetoric training at the Islamic schools (madrassas).

    December 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    • Peacelover

      Please Skorpio, do not generalize "blaming game" to ALL Muslims. Remember majority of Muslims go to secular schools.I think the mistakes made by the governments of Pakistan should NOT be associated with Muslims!

      December 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  12. Bob

    Until the underlying issues are resolved in the middle east, this will be a very costly and ruining experience for the West.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • Prettygal

      Tell me again, just WHY are we wasting billions of US taxpayer dollars a year on Pakistan? Pakistan is a state sponsor of terror. It is haven to various terrorist groups, including AlQueda, Taliban, Haqqani, Lakshar, the list goes on. The late Osama Bin Laden was given hospitality in Pakistan. Pakistan has provided nuclear technology to other rogue states like Iran. The Paki soldiers mentioned in the story were probably providing cover for their terrorist friends. They are all in bed with one another.

      December 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  13. Don't know a thing

    Pakistan is not like the USA. There are areas within their own borders (notably Waziristan) which they are physicially incapable of controlling. There is heavy infiltration of their government by the Taliban. There are NUMEROUS challenges, which complicate the issue of ruling in that nation.

    The US has different issues. I'm sure we all have our ideas about what those might be.

    The point is, we'll probably never REALLY understand what goes on over there, nor they here. Everybody wants to point fingers, but clearly that isn't helping anybody with anything - let's figure out what went wrong in this attack and solve that problem, and then move on.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Reply
    • Peacelover

      That is exactly Right !

      December 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  14. red neck

    shakir love it or leave it and i dont care which country it is

    December 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  15. Clinton

    huh, maybe if your country didn't sponsor terrorism and harbor one of the worst terrorist in the history of the world right next to your Military acadamy it wouldn't be so hard to tell who's who? Maybe remove the terrorist groups from your country that continue to move freely back and forth between your country and Afghanistan and we would have no need to fire at groups of armed men that appear to be part of a terrorist emcampment. Maybe stop taking Billions from our government then turning around and allowing members of your military and intelligence organizations to support terrorist groups that continue to attack our troops? ... how about this, decide which side of the fence you're on either help us rid the world of these groups or admit you're part of the problem so we can start eliminating you.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • AJS

      Another ignorant American!!!!

      December 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Reply
      • Bo

        American ignorance and idiotism doesn't surprise me anymore

        December 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • PS

      Well said. Pak should stop playing double game.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply
      • G.W

        Yea... U.S never played this game before...

        December 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
      • Peacelover

        US is known to play triple-games !

        December 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
      • big b

        We also have ways of wiping them off the face of the earth coventionally if we so wished. Be very grateful that we don't have that Taliban mentality that Pakistan is undoubtedly controlled by. America will never fall unless it's caused internally as no country has the logistic capabilities to mount an invasion. And nuclear war is not an option as we have enough nukes to wipe out any country in the world.

        December 17, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Shakir

      A day will come when the United Snakes of America attacks Pakistan and when that day comes the world as we know it will change. Bigger and greater empires than the USA have come and gone into history. What do you think makes you so special? When they do attack Pakistan, it will make Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan look like a walk in the park.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Reply
      • Peacelover

        Well said. That is a fact.

        December 16, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
      • big b

        Not really,Shakir. No need to put boots on the ground. Just wipe out their infrastructure and command and control and they'll be running to the bargining table. And what makes us special is the ability to pound you into dirt at will!!

        December 17, 2011 at 11:41 am |
      • blah

        HAHAHA!!!! you clearly have zero knowlegde of the US's military capibilities, pakistan is no more tech advanced than Iraq was. same tanks same planes same rifles same dishdashas. if they square up they will get the piss knocked out of them even quicker. need i remind you that going into Iraq we had little to no real world experience fighting an army equiped with these 1980's post cold war weapons, however this is 10 long years later and thats 10 years of training in Iraq to JACKSTOMP Pakistan. you think "GOD" will save you when the B-52 flys over? He didnt save Bin Laden, or any other radical koran thumping islamist. test your theory!!! I'll bet my life the Bombs will kill you the same as they kill jews christians and the likes. "GOD WILLING" lol you funidmentalists make me laugh

        December 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Mike

      Time to kick some Paki ass or let India do it... either way Paki needs to be taught a big lesson!

      December 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Reply
      • G.W

        Bring it.... Pakistan will turn India into a sheet of glass...

        December 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
      • Manish

        and why would India do that ...Just because you guys dont know how to deal with them

        December 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
      • Peacelover

        Pakistan will live until the day of judgement !

        December 16, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
      • ram

        I think america just had its lesson from the Taliban!

        December 17, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • G.W

      Hill billy, your turnip truck is parked fire lane...

      December 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Reply
      • George John

        hahahah what a reply man!!! Turnip Truck.....hahahahhaha

        December 16, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • dewey

      Do you know the difference in a terrorist and a gang member ? gang members are found only in USA and the UK . Anywhere else in the world there Terrorists . The terrorist ploy is a excuse not a cause , I've yet to see our own military running up and down our streets putting bullets in the heads of our domestic terrorists "Gang Members " . So why are we worrying over those abroad

      December 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Reply
      • khalidqureshi

        i agree,we should let nato takeover los angeles and deal with the gangs,let nato drop bombs on poor and homeless people of la

        December 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
      • blah

        do none of you use your head before you post? when was the last time an LA gang member traveled abroad and performed a suicide attack on a muslim country? OH.... thats right..... NEVER!!!!! the excuses and analogies you people come up with are hilarious. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK! fact is that terrorists exist and the longer we fight them on their soil the longer our soil stays bloodless. crack a book, learn some history, or sound foolish.

        December 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
      • dewey

        Last year there were 9,427 gang related murders in the USA . add to that 6.4 million reported acts of gang related Violence . The American Gang activity of 1 year far out weighs All acts of terrorism acted upon the USA ever and the statistics have been near this bad for the last 25 years .
        Do a google search for United States Crime Rates look at the numbers your self then think next time befor adding your 2 cents to a adult forum.

        December 18, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
      • blah

        how funny, you didnt even touch on the fact that I've never seen or heard of a gang member from LA traveling to afganistan and blowing himself up. your argument makes little to no sense, the number of people speeding on the freeways vastly out numbers the amount of people involved in terrorist acts, does that make speeding a more important issue than terrorism? HAHAHA, either your not a US citizen or you dont deserve to be, i just cant see how you can really not see that fighting terrorists is a worthy cause. BUT... then again you would if a plane slammed into your mothers office building tommorrow.

        February 26, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • AlexShch

      She actually used word "obliterating", not "eliminating". Other than that it is very accurate.

      December 17, 2011 at 1:16 am | Reply
    • ram

      Caveat emptor! Buyer beware! Investor beware! Why should america be exempt from this doctrine. It is their fault if they want to splash the yuans all around the world for their own salvation.

      December 17, 2011 at 2:07 am | Reply
    • khalidqureshi

      moving freely between afghanistan and pakistan is going on for centuries,it is not new,what is new is thet usa should mind its business and stop asking pak for help every time someone kicks its ass,before it was russia now it is qaida,what the hell,fight yor war we are not fighting your war anymore,taliban is not our enemy,it is yours,because you beck israel and kill innocent people for no crime,hear me good,israel have no right to exist, God destroyed it and barred the jews to have a country,they cannot have a country,thet is not israel,thet is palastine,israel dont exist,they will kill and killl and killl just to live in a country thet dont exist,now what other people in the world do you know who kill just to live,making God more angry every day,there will be a day when jews will not find anywhere safe in the world,God tells us in koran thet he will round them up from the east and the west and the north and the south,jesus will come and destroy this so called israel,and take al aqsa from the occupiers,jesus is not coming back to have dinner at the white house,and let me remind you,messengers of God dont take sides with the powerfull,they dont take sides with people who fire missils and fly f16s and apachi helicoptors,they live with poor people and represent poor people,plz dont think jesus will fight against palastenians,he is a palastenian

      December 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Reply
      • blah

        Thank you for finally comming out and showing your true holocaustic genocidal mania. what the hell is wrong with the jews in isreal aside from them not preying to the god you prey to. human beings are human beings. its the people like you that cant just get over this fact that cause the world to stay in constant turmoil. you have exactly the same outlook as hitler, bin laden and every other radical fundimentalist that has bled out in a dirty ally in Iraq beneath the tracks of american tanks. thats fine though form a line and step up to the plate and american might will provide each one of you with the chance to meet allah personally.

        December 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
      • dewey

        I hate to sound Rude but Blah you must have some kind of mental disorder . The United State is Broke , We have people starving to death in the streets , we have 1 in 10 person unemployed and 7 out of 10 under employed . Were a nation where 12% of the population has lost there homes in the last 2 years and more and more are becoming homeless every day .
        America cant take care of the American's , How in the world are we to take care of some other nation far across the ocean that poses 0 threat to our own nation .
        Your post consistently have no point no factual bases , and make you and every other American look like a ass , ether your a 12 year old child trying to look big or the dumbest man in America. And i truly have no desire to know which is the truth ......

        December 18, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
      • blah

        Dewey, first off, get some self respect. America shouldnt be responsible for taking care of your everyday needs. people like you, always looking for a hand out are a 180 degree turn from the attitudes of our founding fathers. Under employment is a term made up by dems like yourself who think that working at mcdonalds is "beneath you", earn a freaking living and provide for your family any way you can and earn your way to the top like every wealthy person in america has, im sure you're broke and blame the world while you clutch your degree and cry "but im a college grad".

        Secondly, i agree that we shouldnt be "taking care of the worlds problems", however, had you ever served in a combat zone you would realize that by keeping the fight there we lessen the oppurtunity for them to plan another 9-11. All of this is factual, i refuse to spout nonsense i assure you.

        Third, i also agree that these countries as a whole arent responsible, however, if you pull you head out from under that rock you will also note that we arent currently engaged in a war with either iraqi or afgani national governing bodies.

        enjoy your hipi lala land you live in, im sure you think obama will be reelected too.

        February 26, 2012 at 11:00 pm |

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