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Friday, 27 January 2012

U.S., Pakistan continue to spar on NATO strike

Islamabad demands full version of U.S. report

Pakistan and U.S. find themselves at odds with each other again with Islamabad rejecting the American probe into the deadly NATO cross border strike that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead and Washington standing by it “100 per cent”.

The first salvo was fired by the Pakistani Army which on Monday officially rejected the probe report of the November 26 attack prepared by American Brigadier General Stepehen Clark saying Islamabad does not agree with several portions and findings of the ‘Investigation Report' as these are not factually correct.

The Pakistani Army also argued that the NATO strike was an “unprovoked attack”.

Hours later, the Pentagon struck back saying the U.S. stands by its own investigation that it was not an unprovoked firing by the U.S.-led forces.

“This [Pakistani military remarks] does not change our belief in the validity of the findings. The statement that this was an unprovoked attack by American forces is simply false,” said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt John Kirby.

Asserting that the U.S. stands “100 per cent” by the investigation done by a top general from the Central Command (CENTOCM) released last month, Captain Kirby said the U.S. had desired Pakistani participation in that investigation, which then would have been more thorough.

Pakistan's absence from participation in the CENTCOM investigation, Captain Kirby said, “does not change our firm belief in the validity of the findings of the investigations that we did”.

The Pakistani Army which had issued a statement rejecting the probe report, has also uploaded a detailed “Pakistani Perspective on the US Investigation Report”, approved by Defence Committee of the Cabinet, on its media arm ISPR's website.

Saying it has received the unclassified version of the probe report, Pakistan has demanded that “full and complete classified version of the US Investigation Report be made available.”

It has also sought provision of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance picture of the complete incident along with all aerial platform videos and record of radio transmissions and communication between the crew(s) of the aerial platforms involved.

The NATO strike was a huge setback to the then already tense U.S.-Pak relations. Pakistan had reacted angrily after the soldiers were killed and 13 more injured when NATO helicopters and combat jets from Afghanistan targeted two military check posts in Salala area of Mohmand tribal region.

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