Panetta asked not to appease Pak before probe over
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Last Updated: Friday, December 02, 2011, 16:32
Washington: Seeking a "thorough and impartial" examination of circumstances that led to the NATO attack which killed 24 Pakistani troops, a key US lawmaker has asked Defence Secretary Leon Panetta not to try to assuage the anger of Islamabad with an apology before the "important" probe into the incident is over.

"As you oversee this important investigation, I urge you to consider the perspective of our troops on the border who cannot shield themselves with the type of political or diplomatic maneuvering employed in Washington and Islamabad.

"For these soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, the cost of failure or indecision is paid for with their lives," Congressman Mike Coffman, a former Marine Corps, said in a letter to Panetta, which was released to the press yesterday.

If the US troops stationed along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan come under attack, it should come as no surprise that they defend themselves with military force, as their Rules of Engagement guarantee, he wrote.

Coffman had recently introduced legislation (HR 3115) that would end all US economic aid to Pakistan and suspend all US military aid until the Obama administration can certify to Congress that the government of Pakistan is effectively using the aid against the Taliban and other al Qaeda affiliates that are planning and executing attacks on American targets.

"The investigation into events on November 26, 2011 (NATO attack) should acknowledge our important relationship with Pakistan, but it must also not turn a blind eye towards actions of the Pakistani military that may have triggered or contributed to the incident," Coffman said in the letter.

Before the US tries to assuage the anger of Pakistan with an apology, a thorough investigation must be undertaken to determine the exact cause of the incident, he demanded.

"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, appropriately and respectfully acknowledged this loss of life, but did not offer an apology on behalf of the US government before a full investigation into this matter is conducted," Coffman said in the letter.

"In the course of this investigation, I urge you to continue this approach and support a thorough and impartial examination into the circumstances that precipitated this event and the risk that our military service members face in their duty in this volatile region," he added.

Coffman said that while the US relationship with Pakistan is definitely important to its security goals in the region amid numerous examples of successful coordination the war on terror, he pointed out that "many in Congress are concerned that our security efforts and those of the government of Pakistan are often divergent at best."

He cited the apparent sanctuary slain al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden had in Abbottabad and alleged instances of Pakistani complicity in attacks on US and Afghan forces by the Haqqani network and support of the Taliban as examples of conflicting efforts by Pakistani government.


First Published: Friday, December 02, 2011, 16:32

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