As noted before, it is highly counterproductive to go down this road and validate in principle the demands for punishment. Anything Afghans see as a half-measure of discipline will be taken as another insult. “Official: Mistakes led to Afghan Quran burnings,” by Patrick Quinn and Rahim Faiez for the Associated Press, March 3:
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) “” At least five American military personnel could face a disciplinary review over the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base in Afghanistan as conflicting accounts of what happened emerged Saturday, fueling more confusion over the incident that sparked six days of deadly riots across the nation.
A Western official told The Associated Press that a joint investigation by senior Afghan and U.S. military officials has convinced them that although mistakes were made, there was no intent to desecrate the Qurans and other Islamic religious texts.
The official, who has knowledge of the investigation, said it could lead to a disciplinary review of at least five U.S. military personnel involved. The official did not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. It is unclear what
such a review could recommend.
President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials have apologized and said the Feb. 20 burning at a burn pit at Bagram Air Field outside Kabul was an accident. But the apologies failed to quell the anger, although protests over the burnings have now ebbed.
But Maulvi Khaliq Dad, a top Afghan religious leader who was on a different panel appointed by President Hamid Karzai to investigate the incident, claimed U.S. troops told Afghans at the base that the religious materials pulled from a detention center library were to be stored, but then they were sent for incineration.
“They are claiming that it was not intentional. Our investigative team says it was intentional,” Dad said Saturday.
After Dad’s panel presented its findings, Afghanistan’s top religious leaders demanded on Friday that those involved be put on public trial and be punished, a position that Karzai backs.
The Quran burnings touched off deadly riots that killed more than 30 Afghans, as well as six U.S. troops who were fatally shot by Afghan security forces or militants disguised in their uniforms. It also brought relations between the U.S.-led military coalition and the Afghan government to an all-time low and spurred the most serious wave of anti-American and foreign sentiment across the country during the 10-year war.
Karzai’s office said Saturday it had only seen the report drafted by the religious leaders and had not yet been given the joint report, so could not comment on it.
“We are waiting for the result of the investigation by NATO, which will probably show who is involved in this and how many people are involved. After studying it we will announce our stance,” said presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi. “What the Afghan president has requested from U.S. officials and the U.S. military is a trial and punishment.”…