Photograph by STR/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: The U.S. military admitted for the first time on Thursday that commanders in Afghanistan were partly at fault for the cross-border raid last month that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers.
The Washington Post with the details: "A report about the Nov. 25 incident found that 'inadequate coordination by U.S. and Pakistani military officers,' and erroneous map information provided by NATO to Pakistani authorities, were to blame for the battlefield blunder, which has added enormous strain to the already fraught relationship between Washington and Islamabad."
The report's conclusions align with key portions of Pakistan's version of events, and also conflict with some early accounts from the U.S. government, which claimed that Pakistani officials gave the all-clear ahead of the airstrikes, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Thursday, Dec. 1: Pakistan won’t be getting an official "I’m Sorry" from President Obama anytime soon, the New York Times reports.
According to the paper, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, had urged the White House to have the president issue a formal video statement apologizing for this past weekend’s NATO airstrikes that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers. But senior officials within the Defense Department overruled the idea, saying that the remorse shown by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials was enough for now until a full investigation into the international incident is complete.
The Times explains the possible political calculus behind the decision: "Some administration aides also worried that if Mr. Obama were to overrule the military and apologize to Pakistan, such a step could become fodder for his Republican opponents in the presidential campaign, according to several officials who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly."
On Wednesday, White House officials said Mr. Obama was unlikely to say anything further on the matter in the coming days.
Monday, Nov. 28: Pakistan's prime minister warned Monday that his country's relationship with the U.S. would be unable to continue in its current form after NATO aircraft killed two dozen Pakistan soldiers over the weekend.
"Business as usual will not be there," Yusuf Raza Gilani told CNN in an interview. "We have to have something bigger so as to satisfy my nation."
Gilani's comments highlight just how tense U.S.-Pakistan relations have become after the weekend incident that further frayed the troubled relationship between the two nations. What had already been an uneasy alliance between the two took a sharp turn for the worse earlier this year after U.S. officials kept their Pakistani counterparts in the dark ahead of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
Gilani said that his country would continue to work with Washington only if the relationship is based on "mutual respect and mutual interest." Asked if that was currently the case, the prime minister replied, "At the moment, not," adding: "If I can't protect the sovereignty of my country, how can we say that this is mutual respect and mutual interest?"
Sunday, Nov. 27: A NATO-led airstrike early Saturday morning on a checkpoint at the Pakistan-Afghan border was actually in response to an attack on Afghan soldiers that appeared to originate from the checkpoint, according to Afghan officials speaking to the Associated Press.
Officials speaking on condition of anonymity said that Afghan soldiers operating in the mountainous region came under fire in the pre-dawn hours Saturday, and called in the strike by the International Security Assistance Force. The border area's outposts are mixed between Pakistan military and militants, which could contribute to confusion about who exactly was firing on the Afghan soldiers.
Tensions, already high, could escalate further if the large number of coalition supply trucks now waiting at the border--closed Saturday by angered Pakistani officials--come under attack in the dangerous border area.
"We are worried," truck driver Saeed Khan told the AP by telephone from the border terminal in Torkham. "This area is always vulnerable to attacks. Sometimes rockets are lobbed at us. Sometimes we are targeted by bombs."
Saturday, Nov. 26: An already fragile diplomatic situation between the U.S. and Pakistan just got worse.
Saturday officials in Pakistan accused NATO of killing 25 soldiers in two helicopter attacks on military checkpoints on the border with Afghanistan, according to The New York Times.
“This incident is highly regrettable and condemnable,” Kyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province governor Masood Kausar told a local television network, according to the Times. “This is not a small incident. It is being taken very seriously.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attacks, and the country closed the border crossing in response, blocking NATO supplies from entering Afghanistan.
The country’s northwestern border with Afghanistan has been a flashpoint in the Afghanistan War, and U.S. officials have complained that Pakistan’s policing of the area — significant because Taliban fighters and other militants have used it for cross-border attacks — has been poorly coordinated.
The BBC reports that the attack came at around 2 a.m. local time at the Salala checkpoint, just 1.5 miles from the Afghan border, and was allegedly carried out by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. NATO officials said they were conducting a thorough investigation of the incident.
I.S.A.F. commander Gen. John R. Allen made a statement, saying:
“My most sincere and personal heartfelt condolences go out to the families and loved ones of any members of Pakistan Security Forces who may have been killed or injured.”
Tensions have been high between the U.S. and Pakistan since the May raid that killed Osama Bin Laden — an action carried out unilaterally by American elite military forces without the knowledge of Pakistan’s military despite being well within its borders.
The airstrike would prove the deadliest such attack in the 10-year war in Afghanistan.