By Karin Brulliard and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, October 2, 2010
ExEd note: The key significance of these incidents and the story being told is that the U.S. and Pakistan have not been called upon until now to acknowledge or publicly discuss the undeclared U.S. war in Pakistan in a direct way using language that affirms U.S. presence and cross-border operation into Pakistan. Since the victims alleged are said to be soldiers, a new element emerges politically. Between the U.S. and Pakistan, seeming only because a new element emerges between the government in Pakistan and the communities over which it claims to legitimately govern.
An excerpt appears below ...
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, telephoned Pakistan's military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, Friday to discuss the incursion, as the administration moved to calm a potentially critical breach with a key partner in the Afghanistan war. Officials who discussed the sensitive negotiations on the condition of anonymity said that a joint investigation could help soothe feelings on both sides.
Pakistan has said that three of six Frontier Corps soldiers manning a mountaintop post near Pakistan's western border were killed when helicopters launched missiles at them after the soldiers fired their rifles to warn that the aircraft were on the Pakistan side. Pakistan has lodged diplomatic protests and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani told Parliament on Friday that the government "will consider other options if there is interference in the sovereignty of our country."
Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, said Friday that military officials have not yet confirmed that Pakistani border troops were killed in the NATO airstrike. Dorrian had previously said that U.S. helicopters had crossed the border but said they had fired on insurgents who were preparing a mortar attack against troops from the U.S.-led coalition on the other side.
U.S. military officials said it was not clear to them whether the same helicopters were involved in both attacks or whether they were separate incidents. A Pentagon spokesman Thursday suggested the aircraft was within its rights to fire after being fired on.
Pakistani military officials have countered that the soldiers were poorly armed and could never have threatened the helicopters with their rifles. The officials have also dismissed U.S. suggestions that the pilots may not have known where the border or the Pakistani military outpost was, saying that detailed maps and high-technology coordination and surveillance established after a similar incident in 2008 would make such confusion impossible.
The deaths of the Pakistani soldiers came amid a sharp escalation in attacks against insurgent strongholds in Pakistan by unmanned CIA drones. Those attacks are highly unpopular in Pakistan, where the government only privately acquiesces to them. U.S. officials said there is also a private agreement that U.S. aircraft can enter Pakistani airspace, within a narrow band along the border, if acting in self-defense against cross-border attacks. Pakistan denies such agreement exists.
Meanwhile, in response to reports of political upheaval in Pakistan, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that the United States considers Pakistan a "key ally" and believes that "the government of Pakistan is committed to democracy and to the preservation of civilian leadership."
Adding to the complexity of Pakistan's political situation, retired Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and served as president until elections in 2008, announced in London that he was re-entering Pakistani politics at the head of a newly formed party.
DeYoung reported from Washington. Correspondent Ernesto Londono in Kabul and special correspondent Haq Nawaz Khan in Peshawar contributed to this report.
Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.
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