RSS
NATO's deadly attack on Pakistan's soldiers: The fallout
An aerial assault on Pakistani military outposts outrages our mercurial ally and sparks a diplomatic crisis. Can the U.S.-Pakistan friendship survive?
Supporters of the religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami protest after Pakistan buried 24 troops killed in a NATO air raid over the weekend.
Supporters of the religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami protest after Pakistan buried 24 troops killed in a NATO air raid over the weekend.
REUTERS/Khuram Parvez
U

.S.-Pakistan relations have gone from bad to worse. Over the weekend, U.S. special forces and Afghan commandos were conducting a mission along the "poorly defined, mountainous border" with Pakistan when they reportedly took incoming fire from two Pakistani outposts. NATO retaliated with air strikes that killed approximately two dozen Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan claims that NATO's two-hour assault was unprovoked, and that NATO ignored Pakistani pleas to stop the attack. Though high-ranking U.S. officials apologized and NATO promised to investigate, thousands of Pakistanis protested in several cities, shouting "Down with America!" and burning an Obama effigy and the U.S. flag. Pakistan has closed its border to trucks delivering supplies to western troops in Afghanistan, and is threatening to bar the U.S. from using a Pakistani base for drone strikes. Can frayed U.S.-Pakistan ties be mended?

Nope. This is the last straw: NATO is foolish to think a mere apology can "wash away its crime," says Pakistan's The Nation in an editorial. Pakistan wisely cut off western supply lines — but that's just a "starting point." It's time that Pakistan showed some courage, namely, with a "swift movement to [disengage] from the USA's so-called War on Terror." We must show the world that we regard our "own citizens' lives with importance equal to, if not greater than, some other state's."
"Now NATO attacks"

C'mon. Pakistan is overreacting: Our so-called ally claims the U.S. is "trying to destroy Pakistani sovereignty," says Rick Moran at American Thinker. "That's nonsense." Let's not turn "a tragic accident into a diplomatic crisis." Clearly, Pakistan has "been looking for a fight since we took down Osama. And now they've got one." The real lesson here? We need "alternate supply lines through central Asia." We can't allow our troops in Afghanistan to "be held hostage to the political whims of the Pakistanis."
"Pakistan tells U.S. to leave air base where drones are launched"

Actually, it's easy to see why Pakistan is livid: Let's be honest, says D.B. Grady at The Atlantic. Even if this was an accident — and I believe it was — it's still "yet another violation of Pakistani sovereignty." Between America's "armed drones and commando operations," we've "essentially claimed the right to much of Pakistan's airspace." Is it any wonder our relationship is "in a perpetual state of collapse"?
"Another very bad day for U.S.-Pakistan ties"

Sadly, this is part of a familiar pattern: This is hardly the first spat between two uneasy allies, says Steven Lee Myers at The New York Times. Remember the CIA contractor arrested for killing two Pakistanis? And the controversial bin Laden raid? Each time, Pakistan responds with "anger and tit-for-tat retaliation," and the U.S. expresses "regret laced with frustration and suspicion." This latest episode will only deepen distrust. And even if the U.S. was provoked, it will now be much harder "to sustain political support inside Pakistan for the strategic cooperation that both countries acknowledge is vital to winning the war in Afghanistan."
"In fog of war, rift widens between U.S. and Pakistan"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week