Unfortunate incident but no official apology to Pak: Pentagon

Pentagon termed as "unfortunate" the reported incident of interrogation of top Pakistani Army officials by US security officials at the Dulles International Airport, but said that it has not "officially apologised" to Islamabad.

Last Updated: Sep 01, 2010, 23:57 PM IST

Washington: The Pentagon on Wednesday termed as
"unfortunate" the reported incident of interrogation of top
Pakistani Army officials by US security officials at the
Dulles International Airport, but said that it has not
"officially apologised" to Islamabad.

"United Airlines is the right place to ask for the
action taken by the airlines. There was no official DoD
(Department of Defence) involvement in it. I do not if the
person having the personal relationship said hey I am sorry
that this happened, but there has been no official DoD
apology," Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told reporters.
Lapan said the DOD came to know about the incident the
same day itself.

"It was an unfortunate incident involving an airline.
DoD was not directly involved in it," he said.

According to The Washington Post, the nine-member
group of high-ranking Pakistani officers boarded United
Airlines Flight 727 from Washington to Tampa late Sunday but
were pulled off the plane after one of them "made a comment to
a flight attendant," said Mike Trevino, a United spokesman.

All this started, when according to the daily, one of
the delegation members who - weary of a long day of travel
that began in Islamabad - said, "I hope this is my last
flight," or words to that effect.

That sparked a call to Dulles law enforcement
officials, who detained the delegation for 2.5 hours and
refused to allow the officials to contact their embassy or the
US military officials who had invited them to visit, according
to a Pakistani military official who spoke on condition of
anonymity, the newspaper said.

Although the Pakistanis were finally release after the
Police at Dulles determined that they did not pose any
security threat, the delegation instead of proceeding to Tampa
where the headquarters of the Central Command is based
were asked by Islamabad to return home.

"Pakistani officials said they received apologies from
Pentagon and Centcom officials," The Washington Post said.

"I can`t speak for the entire Department. If some
individuals told them that I am sorry, that is different than
a DoD apology. But I do not want to rule out that someone in
the Department might have talked to them," Lapan said when
asked about it.
"That was an unfortunate incident that these gentlemen
were coming here to participate in a conference in CENTCOM,"
Lapan said, adding that he does not have all the facts of the
incident and can`t rule anything out.

PTI