U.S. gives Pakistan a Christmas briefing on November border fight
Published: December 27, 2011
WASHINGTON – On Christmas morning, U.S. time, a Pentagon representative showed Pakistan’s top general the unreleased report on a cross-border firefight that left 24 Pakistani troops dead, and the United States in a deepening diplomatic crisis with a key regional partner.
The unclassified report on the incident, which took place on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on Nov. 25 and 26, was released to the public the following day. Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby said Pakistani Gen. Ashfaq Kayani was given the preview as an “appropriate professional courtesy.”
The United States is trying to win back Pakistani cooperation in the wake of the November firefight and the May killing of Osama bin Laden on Pakistani territory, both of which have outraged the local leadership. Pakistan shut down key border crossings that supply the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, and demanded an end to drone strikes on militants in Pakistani territory. Administration officials confirmed last week they had acceded to the demand.
Without releasing the actual report, the Pentagon last week gave the press an overview of its contents. The Pakistani military responded with a one-paragraph press release saying it disagreed with the investigation, which it called “short on fact.”
Among the findings of the report released Monday that were not covered in last week’s briefing:
-A U.S. AC-130 gunship, which fired on mountaintop Pakistani military emplacements, crossed into Pakistani airspace.
-A U.S. military representative in Pakistan who is usually notified in advance of operations near the border was left ignorant about the November operation. A NATO officer meanwhile delayed telling a U.S. commander that Pakistan was reporting its troops were taking fire for the better part of an hour.
-In all, nearly 90 minutes passed between the first notification by Pakistan its troops were being fired upon and the time commanders stopped granting permission to U.S. aircraft to engage Pakistani positions.
Both sides claim the other began the battle by firing first.