Friday, October 1

Is there a split in ISAF regarding Pakistan? Plus Gilani issues vague threat to U.S.

Yesterday the Long War Journal's Bill Roggio published his illuminating analysis of the fallout from the U.S. shooting of three Pakistanis, in Pakistani territory, that the Pakistani regime claims were Frontier Corps soldiers (Pakistan closes NATO supply route after latest US cross-border attack).

Bill brings out so many important points, including the fact that despite Pakistan's denials they agreed years ago to permit ISAF forces to enter Pakistan from Afghanistan in 'hot pursuit' of Taliban/Qaeda fighters, that I'm reluctant to pull out just a few quotes; if you're following the Afghanistan War, you're best off reading the entire analysis.

However, Bill made one observation that stunned me, particularly in light of a Washington Post article today (NATO fuel tankers are torched in Pakistan). He reported:
ISAF noted that an investigation into the [shooting] incident was being looked into, and offered an apology to Pakistan even though it hasn't been confirmed whether Pakistani troops were indeed killed.

"ISAF conveys our sincere condolences to the Pakistani military and the families of those who were killed or injured," the statement concluded.
The report from the Washington Post's Karin Brulliard backs up Bill's observation:
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.
So why did the ISAF seriously undercut its position by racing out with an apology?

To add to the strangeness of the situation, it seems nobody in the Pak regime heard the ISAF apology. The Daily Times reported on October 2 that the regime is making a vague threat if they don't receive an apology from NATO. Or is it that they're making a distinction between the ISAF and NATO?:
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday told the National Assembly that the government might consider other options if someone tried to interfere with the country’s sovereignty.

Responding to a point of order raised by Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch, the PM said, “If they (NATO) don’t apologise and remove our apprehensions, we may consider other options as well.”
Regarding the latest torching of the NATO supply convoy, one doesn't need do much reading between the lines of Brulliard's report to ask whether Pakistan's military (or one of those pesky phantom 'rogue' ISI agents) was behind the torching of a NATO supply convoy. And a report filed today with the Christian Science Monitor by Ben Arnoldy also raises suspicions (NATO tankers torched in Pakistan, but alternative routes to Afghanistan limited) by observing, in part:
The torched tankers had been parked for the night at a gas station, says local district coordination officer Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo. No one was hurt in the attack, he says, and he declined to speculate on who was responsible for the attack.

"It is a bit early to say, an investigation is under way," he says. "No militants are operating in this area. This is a peaceful area."

Rehmatullah Soomro, a reporter for the newspaper Dawn who interviewed some of the drivers, says they told him they were headed to Kandahar. The attack took place at about 1:30 a.m. Mr. Soomro says few witnessed the attack but some say the attackers came in Toyota Land Cruisers and used rocket launchers.

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