ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has formally rejected the US-NATO enquiry into the airstrikes on the two border posts in Mohmand Agency on November 26, on the grounds that the report was not based on facts and the probe was carried out by top American security official Brig General Stephen Clark, who is also linked to the NATO team that carried out the cross border attack. “The US-led enquiry report is not based on facts and that has been formally conveyed to the US through diplomatic channels,” a Pakistani official requesting anonymity said on Wednesday.
Moreover, he said the enquiry report could not be considered impartial given the fact that the probe team was headed by Brig Clark, a senior US military official who was also linked to the NATO raiding party that carried out the airstrikes. “We believe that General Clark was an unsuitable choice to carry out the investigation as compared with someone neutral and impartial,” he said. Meanwhile, media reports from Washington suggested that the American military had briefed COAS General Ashfaq Kayani on its investigation into airstrikes. Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby told reporters that a report by military investigators was delivered to General Kayani on Sunday by a US officer based in Islamabad, who explained the findings to the army chief.
“The full report from the joint US-NATO investigative team was not released publicly until Monday to allow time for the Pakistani leadership to read the findings first,” Kirby said.
“We wanted Gen Kayani to be able to see the entire thing,” he said, calling the approach an appropriate professional courtesy to General Kayani.
However, another Pakistani official belied Pentagon’s statement, saying the report was not handed over in person to Gen Kayani and no briefing was given to him by any American official in this regard.
He said the US enquiry report was rather delivered to the office concerned in the General Headquarters (GHQ).
The government has also sent a letter to US Congress showing its disagreement with the findings of US-NATO investigation into the airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The letter said the bombardment went on long even after the Pakistan Army reported that its troops had come under fire.
The letter said Pakistani troops came under fire at well-identified border posts and that NATO commanders knew helicopter gunships were firing on Pakistani forces within the first 15 minutes. “Yet the attack continued for more than another hour,” it said.
It said the attack was the most recent example of the losses that Pakistan had suffered fighting alongside the US to combat terrorism and extremism.
The letter said the strike had strained ties between Washington and a key ally in the region and an apology by the US to the people of Pakistan would not be inappropriate.
It said the complete NATO chain of command knew allied gunships were attacking Pakistani forces by 1:15am on November 26 but kept pounding the Pakistanis until about 2:20am.
“At this point NATO was knowingly attacking Pakistani soldiers and NATO commanders were well aware of the Pakistani positions,” it added.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that US military officials have not ruled out disciplinary action as a result of the cross-border attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Mohmand Agency on November 26, but no one has been punished to date, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
Navy Capt John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said military leaders would use the final report on the investigation to determine if anyone should be punished. Those decisions, he said, would be made by officers in the chain of command, depending on whether they found that mistakes were made by United States or NATO personnel.