Killing Pakistani Soldiers

America’s Lost War


The killing of  24 Pakistan army soldiers in Mohmand Tribal Agency on November 26 by US air strikes is unforgivable. I was in Mohmand three weeks ago, visiting 77 Brigade, whose officers and soldiers were slaughtered by US aircraft,  and I know exactly where Pakistan’s border posts are located. And so do American forces, because they have been informed of the precise coordinates of all them. 

There can be no refutation of the statement to me that  “No plans of any patrols or operations being conducted [at the time of the Mohmand airstrikes] were shared [with Pakistan, by US forces].” And nobody can deny that the posts are well inside Pakistan.

Those killed in the US attack on Pakistan included Captain Usman, whose six-month-old daughter will never see him again, and Major Mujahid who was to be married shortly.  Well done, you gallant warriors of the skies. May you never sleep contented.

Here is a description of what went on, from a retired army officer who visited the casualties in the Military Hospital in Peshawar:

There were 14 wounded in the surgical ward suffering a variety of wounds . . . The crux of the account of the soldiers and officers was that at about 11pm . . .  a light aircraft came from across the border, flew over the post and fired flares and returned. About half an hour later armed helicopters and [other] aircraft came. They again fired flares and began firing at the men. They remained in the area for about 5-6 hours. During this time, the helicopters [were] firing at individual personnel at will  . . .  [and fire was returned by their single 12.7 machine gun].  Every one of the men on the post was killed or wounded. They seemed to be in no hurry and going after each individual separately. Having finished the entire post, they peaceably went back without any casualty on their part.

The US assault is unpardonable. It was one of the only too frequent Cowboy Yippee Shoots, as we used to call them in Vietnam when I served there in the Australian army.  Some things don’t change.

And on the subject of flying — it is ironical that my flight from Islamabad to Paris in early November was delayed because there was so much conflicting air traffic through Afghan airspace. The West’s war in Afghanistan, which is hideously costly in lives of foreign soldiers and Afghans (not that Afghan lives matter much to the so-called ‘coalition’ forces), and fantastically lucrative for corrupt Afghan politicians and officials – and lots of western commercial enterprises – involves staggering amounts of air movement.  Much of it is by combat jet and helo jockeys, as well as countless drones, maneuvered by amoral, intellectually depraved video-game players in dinky little hi-tech parlors, blasting away with rockets, bombs and bullets at little figures on their screens.

The news keeps coming of errant air strikes, like the one in Kandahar on November 24 that killed six Afghan children, who were yet more victims of the West’s precision technology. And “NATO helicopters on Monday [November 28] fired four rockets into houses in Zhari district of Kandahar, killing three women and injuring two men, said Zalmai Ayoubi, the provincial governor’s spokesman.”  Concurrently the showed the names of three more young foreign soldiers killed in this cruel shambles.  The British army’s Rifleman Sheldon Steel was 20, as was US Private Jackie Diener, whose countryman Corporal Zacharie Reiff was 22 when the three of them they gave their lives for — what?  There were 25 foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan in November, but there is little in the war-supporting mainstream western media about this death toll. And there is nothing about the concurrent maiming, physically and mentally, of countless young men who will never again know normality in their entire lifetimes — unlike the slavering ghouls in politics who piously intone their mantra that “we must support our troops,” in order to justify their war.  What rancid humbugs. Have any of them had a son or husband die in hideous agony or suffer appalling mutilation in any of the wars they so noisily support?

The website about casualties does not of course record the names of any of the Pakistan army soldiers who were killed in Mohmand by the US air strikes in the small hours of last Saturday.  The US commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, General John R Allen, said he had offered his condolences to the family of “any” Pakistani soldiers who “may have been killed or injured,” which expression of halfhearted disquiet will undoubtedly go a long way to infuriate even more citizens of Pakistan. (Where do they get people like Allen? Are they programmed to say moronic things like this?)

It is not too much to say that the author of Cables from Kabul, Sherard Cowper-Coles, the brilliant British diplomat who was ambassador in that besieged capital for three action-packed years, feels that the Afghan War is fruitless.  He writes that “it is unarguable that the West got into Afghanistan in October 2001 without a clear idea either of what it was getting into or of how it was going to get out.”   Cowper-Coles (we’ll call him C-C) brought extensive experience and skill to Afghanistan, and it isn’t too much to suggest that if his notions and prescriptions had been accepted the place wouldn’t be in the terminal shambles that now exists. He obviously empathized with the Afghan people, and one can imagine him, translated to a century ago, being a benign interlocutor with Emir Nasrullah Khan and arguing persuasively about the Treaty of Gandamak.

But C-C’s modern arguments were of a different sort.  His intercession concerning the slaughter of ninety Afghan villagers by a US Specter gunship – a truly hellish death-machine – was instrumental in extracting the final admission by the then US commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, General McKiernan, that his troops – his army – his country – had lied.  McKiernan acknowledged, after “the Americans were at first in denial”, that a US strike had killed the civilians —  a “big gesture by a big man” writes C-C.  And perhaps it was.  But of course big gestures don’t bring back dead children to their mothers, be that in Afghanistan or the US or Pakistan or Britain or anywhere else. And the lies continue, with the Washington Post and the New York Times doing their best to spread the word, from un-named “Afghan security officials” that the slaughter of the Pakistan army soldiers on November 26 was their own fault.  Here’s the Post:

After the coalition unit came under fire from the Pakistani side of the border, the troops responded by calling in an airstrike, which resulted in the Pakistani casualties, the officials said. “They did come under fire from across the border first, before reacting,” said a senior Afghan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue . . .

One senior Afghan police official said that after an initial gunbattle, the insurgents retreated into a Pakistani post and began firing from there. “They started firing at the commandos, and they continued firing so the air support had to come to their defense,” the official said.

One wonders how C-C would have reacted to this, in his official position (probably with civilized disdain), but in 2009 he had to pay attention to the bigger picture, and when he was offered the opportunity to become his foreign minister’s Special Representative to Afghanistan, standing down from being ambassador, he accepted the poison chalice because he thought “it was a real chance to help the Obama Administration deliver the political strategy capable of bringing sustainable success.” In this he was vastly over-optimistic, even being warned by the late Richard Holbrooke that “not everyone” in the US administration saw things as did the British. C-C “pointed to the need for a process of national reconciliation to complement the military campaign” but although there may have been lip-service to that estimable objective, there was no evidence of serious application. Nor is there now, two years later.

In early November Major General Peter Fuller, the US deputy commander of Nato’s training mission in Afghanistan, was sacked for saying publicly that President Karzai was “isolated from reality” and that Afghans “don’t understand the sacrifices that America is making to provide for their security.” He had to be fired, of course, for making a fool of himself (where do they get them from?), but it is apparent that his sentiments are widely supported by the Pentagon’s decision-makers who blame everyone but themselves for the fact that their war is going catastrophically in what they insultingly call “AfPak.”

The “sacrifices that America is making” in Afghanistan, in what is ludicrously called ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’,  are entirely self-inflicted.  But Pakistan’s sacrifices are inflicted by America, which is losing yet another war and again blames another country for its failure. Just like it did in the disasters in Vietnam and Somalia and Iraq.

In the past fifty years, what nation has trusted America and come out of the deal with dignity, honor and prosperity?  Pakistan is far from a perfect country.  Its government is corrupt and appallingly inefficient. But it could do without Washington’s imperial insolence. At the moment Islamabad is desperate to find some means of registering the country’s contempt and loathing for the United States, and there are very few options available to it.  But it could reflect on what Washington’s retaliation would have been if Pakistani aircraft had gone on a yippee shoot and killed 24 American soldiers inside Afghanistan.

Brian Cloughley is a South Asia defence analyst. 

This is a cross post from COUNTER PUNCH.

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  • S U Turkman  On December 2, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Okay, okay so, there is nothing wrong when Pakistanis blow up some installation of US Army in Afghanistan killing 52 of them because USA is Great Satan but its illegal for USA to return fire and kill 26 saintly Pakistanis.
    The Question is not, why Pak Army Soldiers in Taliban Attire were attacking US and Afghan Troops. The Question is, why USA retaliated once they had reached Pakistan Army Post that USA knew about ahead of time.
    So, I guess, as soon as Americans had seen their Attackers heading towards Pakistan Army Post, they should have realized they were not Taliban. They were Pak Army Soldiers and they should not have attacked them because Pakistan Army has been getting paid millions for back-stabbing USA like that.
    Its all fault of USA, not Pakistan’s.

  • kbajwa  On December 3, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Brian’s article bears testimony to the fact that Pakistan Army certainly knew where its troops were located. It was indeed an intentional provocation and that to an ally. It is either treachery or bewilderedness.

    • S U Turkman  On December 3, 2011 at 4:20 am

      Yes Mr;.Khawaja but the problem is, US had asked Pak Army if there were any Pak Troops in the area. Pak Army had denied existence of any Pak Soldiers in the area because they were in Taliban Attire, attacking Afghan and US Soldiers. They were not in their Uniform. Pak Army had wanted to give an impression to USA they were not Pak Soldiers. They only got caught because they fled back straight to their Post after attacking.
      Definitely its an International Provocation but Pak Army’s back-stabbing of USA since 2003 through Taliban is Pandora’s Box of International Provocation. .

      • a m malik  On December 3, 2011 at 7:36 am

        Hi Ghasi aka turkey. U r again at jibe with the truth. Mr Brian is a liar and u are the one with all the pristine qualities. I am sure if the US media wants they will make the people believe that you are the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
        It is always “other’s fault” never of the US? Is this what u project? US establishment has the holiest in front of who Vatican will humble. In their night visions they ofcourse saw the taliban dress worn by the Pak army fellows? Because their night visions act like day visions.
        Yes the US fellows did ask (or informed) the Pak Army if there were any of their soldiers in the area. But which area? The one mentioned was at the border in Afghanistan at a distance – not the Pak post. In fact the lady who had sought the info of the area, acknowledged her mistake and regretted.
        So turkey here also you have digested the truth. We know u r a compulsive liar and this u cannot help.

    • buttjee  On December 3, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Your understanding of the incident is self serving but extremely funny. The old saying, ” Might is right”, fits in well in this situation. Another important aspect which has been identified by Mr Brian in this article, is the role of two US news papers which are churning out fabricated accounts of NATO’s helicopter attacks and repeated descriptve lies to influence the public opinion. You seem to be one of those media infected minds. The fact of the matter is that US has totally abandoned the high moral ground which used to be pride of the civilized American nation and to their dismay their country is now behaving like a terrorist state. Saner and rational minds in US are feeling ashamed of their country’s policies which are governed by the neocons and the influential Zionist elements. One feels sorry to say that as the sole super power US has made no contribution to international peace. On the contrary US has been spreading the flames of war all over the world, killing innocent women and children like a trigger happy cow boy, committing crimes against humanity with no remorse and promoting injustice in international conflict resolution efforts. I remember in his televised interview, one of the ex US senator compared his country with a war hungry, drunk monster. Today the world has become far more unsafe than it was ten years ago and US is very much responsible for this unfortunate situation.

      • S U Turkman  On December 3, 2011 at 8:05 pm

        Might is always right Buttjee otherwise, would you people be ruling all other nations of Pakistan?
        If India did not interfere, you would still be ruling East Pakistan also because might is right and not Pakistanis.

  • abby  On December 3, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Xlent article pinpointing the truth by gen brian .

  • Malik Saad  On December 3, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Agree with Gen. Mirza Aslam Baig

  • Malik Saad  On December 3, 2011 at 6:16 am

    H.E.the SEC. GEN. NATO why you and your masters ( Americans, Indians, Jews) forced our government to take action in South Waziristan ? Can you give the answer? no you can’t, because you can’t disclose the desire plans A.I.J. ( American, Indian and Jews ) but I can tell you why NATO and A.I.J. persuaded Govt of Pakistan to take action in South Waziristan. It was decided that military action will start next morning by the Govt of Pakistan the same night three( 3 ) NATO helicopters landed in South Waziristan and evacuated 90 people from there and were taken to some air base in Afghanistan from there they were shifted to some other place. (a) who were they (b) what they were doing there. You have no answer to that.But I can give you the answer in my opinion (1) they were the trainers from Xe – Services facilitating A.I.J sponsored so called talibans and local tribesmen by providing arms money training etc to fight with Pakistan Army. Another question arises why to fight Pak . Army ? As your NATO forces with all mights with modern & latest equipment and full ground intelligence facilities are able to control less than 20%of total Afghanistan,rest is controlled by the Talibans in your terminology they are named as AL – QAEEDA. Mr. Sec. Gen. sir the mind sets of your think tanks was that when action will start in South Waziristan Pak.Army with limited resources, limited training and financially restrains will not be able to face the A.I.J. sponsored so called talibans Pak. Army will be bogged down. A.I.J (American Indian Jew joint venture) will jump to conclusion that Pak. Govt & Pak Army is not able to withstand the trust of talibans so they are incapable to protect and safe guard the ” NUKES “. So these facilities may be given under U.N. control and these facilities are look after by U.N. peace keepers. When these A.I.J. sponsored vagabonds were taken to task and given the just punishment by Pak . Army Mr. Sec. Gen. all hopes of conjunct vagabonds were dashed into pieces. Now you changed your war plan to make direct attacks on Pakistan Army, this is an act of shameful and cowardness on your part to demoralized our beloved Army, without our support you can not win here or this will prove to be another “Vietnam” for you people. We and our Army are not demoralized we stand conjunct with our Army and Intelligence agencies. THIS IS AN ADVICE ALWAYS REMEMBER THE DEFEAT OF U.S.S.R.

    • S U Turkman  On December 3, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks for letting us know, USSR was defeated in Afghanistan by our MojaahiDeen and there was no revolution going on in Kremlin that caused Soviet Pullout from Afghanistan.
      Since you have already defeated USSR, I understand, you are now trying to defeat USA and Troops of 46 other nations also. I guess, you would defeat USA and them also, when they pullout of Afghanistan. Please help Germany, Japan, S Korea, U.K., Italy, Belgium, Turkey etc the other more than 2 dozen countries also to defeat USA Army there so they can also be free …!.

  • Malik Saad  On December 3, 2011 at 6:19 am

    This was written on 30 Nov 2011

  • Arif Khan  On December 3, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Thanks for Sharing..It is such a crying Shame that this happened, and today at my Senior Gym People were “Disgusted” and they had no clue what was going on? their anger seemed to be at Obama as this happened “on his guard” Very Very Shameful..Lets however wait for the investigation to be complete Arif

  • kathleen  On December 3, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Disgusting, disgraceful, shameful and appalling. America will reap the seeds of her destruction.

    • S U Turkman  On December 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      I know, I know, Pak Army’s killing of US and Afghan Troops through its Mercenaries the Taliban and Soldiers disguised as Taliban since 2003 despite living off USA since 1953 is not disgusting, disgraceful, shameful and appalling at all. Only US retaliation is because USA is Great Satan and Pakis are saintly since their birth.

      • a m malik  On December 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

        Mr “I know,I know”- and earlier Mr “Yeah, yeah”, Wonder if the 3000 cubans who got massacred during Bay of Pigs crisis, was due to ISI? Did ISI have a hand in Kennedy’s assassination? your stammered reasoning may have been a delight for you but is definitely a treat for the one’s fond of reading all the nonsense. Switch off the Fox Tv and ur info from the daddy FBI – so that you may think logically and with a clear mind. Now if what u say is even 1% true, then in accordance with the laid down S.O.P why did the US fellows not inform the sector commander of what they observed before opening the salvos through their might from the skies? The US fellows are themselves not been forthcoming so far but it is the Fox churning out the data for intellectuals like you and the same is then cut paste by you for us.
        Read below what I have said in reply to u as above and I reproduce:
        “Yes the US fellows did ask (or informed) the Pak Army if there were any of their soldiers in the area. But which area? The one mentioned was at the border in Afghanistan at a distance – not the Pak post. In fact the lady who had sought the info of the area, acknowledged her mistake and regretted.
        So turkey here also you have digested the truth. We know u r a compulsive liar and this u cannot help”.

  • Jameel Zaidi  On December 4, 2011 at 10:08 am

    We have never thought of relying on our own resources. This happens to nations knocking at the door of others with a begging bowl in its hand. In fact it is a warning from Allah almighty for discriminating friend and foes.Is a time to learn from our experience of the foreign policy we adopted in our relations with US extending over sixty years.

    jameel Zaidi

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