Pakistan to Reexamine Relations with US, NATO After Deadly NATO Raid

Posted November 26th, 2011 at 2:50 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Pakistan says it plans to review its complete relationship with the United States and NATO in response to a deadly cross-border NATO airstrike early Saturday.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani held an emergency meeting late in the day with top military and civilian government leaders in Islamabad on the incident.

In a statement, the officials said “the government will revisit and undertake a complete review of all programs, activities and cooperative arrangements with US/NATO/ISAF, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence.”

They condemned the NATO attack on two Pakistani military checkpoints in the northwest as “unacceptable.” They said the attack, which killed at least 26 troops and wounded 14 others, could not be described as a mistake.

They also announced that Pakistan has closed all NATO supply lines through its territory to Afghanistan and ordered the United States to vacate a controversial airbase.

The statement did not say how long Pakistan's border crossings into landlocked Afghanistan would remain closed to NATO. However, it gave the United States 15 days to shut down its activities at the Shamsi airbase.

So far, U.S. officials have not responded to the statement. Earlier, a NATO spokesman told VOA they were aware of the reported incident and are investigating.

Top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan General John Allen also offered his condolences to families and loved ones of any members of the Pakistani security forces who may have died or were wounded.

The United Arab Emirates leases the Shamsi airbase located in a remote southwestern part of Pakistan. The U.S. spy agency, the CIA, reportedly uses the base for covert drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt, but the Pakistani military said in June that the United States does not operate out of that base.

U.S. officials have said Pakistan's tribal belt provides sanctuary to the Taliban, which has been fighting for 10 years against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The helicopter raid comes a little more than a year after a similar, less deadly operation in which U.S. helicopters killed two Pakistani soldiers mistaken for insurgents near the Afghan border. Pakistan responded to that attack by closing down one of its border crossings to NATO supplies for more than a week until the United States apologized.

Ties between Washington and Islamabad have been unraveling since a covert U.S. commando raid in May killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden who was hiding for years in a Pakistani garrison town. Pakistan was outraged it was not informed beforehand and angered by what it saw as a U.S. violation of its sovereignty.