Pakistan’s Papers React to Cross-Border Strike

Even by the standards of recent Pakistan-US relations, the killing of as many as 25 Pakistani soldiers by Nato-led forces yesterday can only send an already fragile alliance into a tail spin. Islamabad has closed its land crossings to Nato supply convoys heading to Afghanistan. And with anti-American demonstrations planned for later today, things will only get worse.

Here’s what some of today’s Pakistani (English-language) papers are saying…

Dawn points out that we have been here before, but that the scale of the latest attack means it should not be explained away as a misunderstanding:

Previous such incidents have been described as the result of miscommunication or of mistakes that took place during the pursuit, or perceived pursuit, of militants. And it is true that Mohmand is an area through which militants do cross the border. But the fact that the strike was aimed at a military check post, and that a large group was targeted (there were reportedly about 40 soldiers at the post), makes that a tenuous explanation in this case.

The Nation, known for its links to Pakistan’s military establishment and its right-wing nationalist stance, goes a step further. Its leader today says that conditions this time are very different to last year, when two soldiers were killed by a US helicopter. Not only were more troops killed, but the incident comes after the Raymond Davis affair and six months after US troops killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil…

The stopping of NATO supplies should be a starting point, with a swift movement to disengagement from the USA’s so-called War on Terror, the logical next step. The government thinks that adherence to the USA would cause it to continue in office, but it should disabuse itself of that notion. It is up to Pakistan to show that it regards its own citizen’s lives with importance equal to, if not greater than, some other state’s.

The normally mild-mannered Express Tribune goes for the jugular…

Like all cliches, the one about the trigger-happy Yank who likes to go it alone persists to this day because it contains a kernel of truth.

…and goes on to recognise the problem at the heart of the US-Pak “alliance”…

The US, however, has a muddled policy, prompted by its desire to withdraw from Afghanistan, whereby they want to both, kill as many Taliban militants as possible while at the same time holding peace talks with them. Rather than continue the charade of claiming they have common ground, it may be best for the two countries to acknowledge that, when it comes to Afghanistan, their interests do not match.

Most of the papers are united behind the government and the military in their forthright condemnation of the raid. And understandably so. Maybe it is too soon to peer beneath the casualty figures for a spot of soul searching. But that is what The Daily Times has done. It says Pakistan has to take a hard long look at its own stance on Afghanistan and ask whether its policies are in part for responsible for the repeated incursions…

They are happening because we have brought NATO and US officials to a head in their frustration about the progress in the war on terror. We promised to tackle the militants who have free rein to cross the border at any time and attack US targets in Afghanistan. However, what we did not tell them was that we were going to have a little fun of our own — we were going to play the double game in the name of ‘strategic depth’. By aiding and abetting the ‘good’ Taliban (these being all those militants who were not attacking the state like the TTP but were waging their war in Afghanistan) in the hopes of a prominent place at the power sharing table in Afghanistan after the US’s withdrawal in 2014, we have disillusioned the US and NATO forces. After trusting our promises, NATO and the US continue to suffer losses at the hands of the militants in Afghanistan.


4 thoughts on “Pakistan’s Papers React to Cross-Border Strike

  1. I keep reading about reactions, but not what happened.

    What is your understanding of what is supposed to have occurred with the strike that killed the soldiers? Were they the intended target? Were they doing something they ought not to have been doing? etc.

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