US bombs Pakistan —again

Pakistan protested a June 11 US military strike that killed at least 11 soldiers as a “gross violation” of its sovereignty. The Foreign Ministry in Islamabad summoned US Ambassador Anne Patterson to denounce a “senseless use of air power against a Pakistani border post,” Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called the attack a “blatant and willful negation” of the sacrifices Pakistan has made in combating terrorism. Pakistan’s military said in a statement that attack was “unprovoked and cowardly,” adding, “The incident has hit at the very basis of cooperation and sacrifice with which Pakistani soldiers are supporting the coalition in the war against terror.”

Pakistani Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani said: “It is unfortunate and certainly unacceptable that the firepower that should be used and deployed against terrorists has ended up causing casualties of allies who are fighting terrorism.”

The US defended the attack on Gora Prai border post. Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell said in Washington, “Every indication we have is that it was a legitimate strike against forces that had attacked members of the coalition. Our guys came under attack and they responded to the attack they were under.”

Morrell insisted there was coordination between US and Pakistani forces in the operation that led to the strike. The US military’s joint command in Afghanistan said the operation was “previously coordinated with Pakistan” and the Pakistani army was informed once the US forces came under attack. The statement said the attackers were about 200 meters inside Afghan territory in Kunar province when they engaged the US forces with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The statement said US forces responded with artillery fire and air strikes.

The number of attacks in eastern Afghanistan rose after Pakistan opened negotiations with militants in the borderlands in April, NATO said last month, asserting that there were 50% more incidents in April than the same period last year. (Australian Broadcasting Corp., Bloomberg, June 11)

See our last posts on Pakistan and Afghanistan.