This account supports a senior Western official’s statement that the airstrikes were a defensive measure, and suggests another case of curiously close proximity between jihadists and Pakistani military posts. U.S. officers reportedly also believed the Pakistani military was providing cover for jihadists in a firefight in late October, along with other recent allegations of jihadists’ operating in the sight of the Pakistani military.
Once again, this may have been a tragic accident. Or jihadists may have tried to draw fire in the direction of Pakistani bases to create an incident. Or, it may have been the inevitable outcome of collaboration between Pakistan and its jihadist clients, and recent reports such as the ones linked above make the last scenario all too plausible. “Afghan officials: Fire from Pakistan led to attack,” by Rahim Faiez and Sebastian Abbott for the Associated Press, November 27:
ISLAMABAD (AP) “” Afghanistan officials claimed Sunday that Afghan and NATO forces were retaliating for gunfire from two Pakistani army bases when they called in airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, adding a layer of complexity to an episode that has further strained Pakistan’s ties with the United States.
The account challenged Pakistan’s claim that the strikes were unprovoked.
The attack Saturday near the Afghan-Pakistani border aroused popular anger in Pakistan and added tension to the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, which has been under pressure since the secret U.S. raid inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden in May.
Pakistan has closed its western border to trucks delivering supplies to coalition troops in Afghanistan, demanded that the U.S. abandon an air base inside Pakistan and said it will review its cooperation with the U.S. and NATO.
A complete breakdown in the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is considered unlikely. Pakistan relies on billions of dollars in American aid, and the U.S. needs Pakistan to push Afghan insurgents to participate in peace talks.
Afghanistan’s assertions about the attack muddy the efforts to determine what happened. The Afghan officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said it was unclear who fired on Afghan and NATO forces, which were conducting a joint operation before dawn Saturday.
They said the fire came from the direction of the two Pakistani army posts along the border that were later hit in the airstrikes.
NATO has said it is investigating, but it has not questioned the Pakistani claim that 24 soldiers were killed. All airstrikes are approved at a higher command level than the troops on the ground….