Remember the time in 2007 when a U.S. soldier was killed and four other Americans were wounded by “unknown assailants” at what was supposed to be a peaceful dialogue with Afghan and Pakistani soldiers to resolve border disputes?
Unless you’ve been following the conflict unusually closely, you probably don’t remember it. That’s because, while Afghan leaders were outraged, U.S. officials didn’t make much of it at the time. And Pakistani officials downplayed it, blaming the ambush on “miscreants” and saying they’d investigate further.
They probably didn’t have to investigate very hard. It appears the attack was planned and carried out by the Pakistani military, according to new accounts from U.S. and Afghan sources, reported Tuesday in the New York Times.
The news follows U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen’s statement to the Senate last week that Pakistan’s notorious intelligence agency, the ISI, has been supporting the Haqqani network, one of the most virulent arms of the Afghan Taliban insurgency. The disclosure has prompted the United States to reevaluate its alliance with Pakistan, a major recipient of U.S. military aid. Pakistan responded bitterly to Mullen’s claims, warning American officials, “You will lose an ally” if such accusations continue.
The new revelations seem bound to widen the rift. They also show just how far the U.S. has gone out of its way to paper over Pakistan’s duplicity in the past. “The official line (on the Teri Mangal attack) covered over the details in the interest of keeping the relationship with Pakistan intact,” an anonymous U.N. official told the Times.
The 2007 assault came at the end of a five-hour meeting between Afghan, Pakistani and U.S. military officials over violence along the ill-marked border between the two countries. Frustrated that Taliban insurgents seemed to be flowing back and forth in plain sight of Pakistani border posts, the Afghan military had begun constructing checkpoints of its own. The summit was called after the Pakistanis objected to one of the new posts, claiming it was on their land, and stormed it, killing 13 Afghans, the Times reports.
American officials thought they had delicately brokered a deal and were on their way out of the village schoolhouse where the meeting had been held when a Pakistani soldier opened fire, killing American Maj. Larry J. Bauguess Jr. As Americans returned fire, more Pakistani gunmen emerged from the schoolhouse and began shooting at them. The Americans eventually escaped in a “blood-soaked Black Hawk helicopter.”