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.