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Good Reads: What really happened at the bombed out Pakistani military post?

NATO bombardment of Pakistani military post has pushed US-Pakistani relationship to new low. That's the bad news. It's also fodder for some great news reporting.

By Scott BaldaufStaff writer / November 29, 2011

Pakistani protesters wave a Pakistani flag during a protest against NATO strikes on Pakistani soldiers, in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday.

Shakil Adil/AP

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America’s relationship with Pakistan, never a simple one, seems to have taken a turn for the worse after the US bombardment of Pakistani forces along the Afghan-Pakistani border on Saturday morning.

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The incident in the Baizai area of Pakistan’s Mohmand region prompted Pakistan to close its borders to NATO convoys supplying troops in Afghanistan, and the US military’s chairman of the joint chiefs of staff called Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani to express “regret,” stopping short of actually apologizing for the incident until an investigation could be carried out.

In addition to getting the facts of what occurred out there on the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border, there is a bigger story about the strange strategic partnership that has existed since Sept. 11, 2001.

Many US policy makers and commanders complain that Pakistan is, at best, a fickle friend in the fight against Islamist terror groups like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and an alphabet soup of Pakistani militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and the Hizb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (HIG). Where Washington expects Pakistani commanders to cooperate in shutting down these groups, there appear frequent signs that such groups are not only tolerated by Pakistan but encouraged to carry out attacks against the Afghan government.

The discovery of Al Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden, just yards away from a major Pakistani military camp does nothing to assuage such suspicions.

From a Pakistani point of view, the Americans have used the excuse of "the war on terror" to expand its military footprint around the world, and to carry out military attacks unilaterally, even without the consent of a host nation. Even liberal Pakistanis with no sympathy for the radical ideas of a global jihad complain that American military actions tend to strengthen the hand of jihadists, and taint those secularists who would prefer that Islamists keep their influence out of politics.

The bombardment of the Pakistani military post, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, will only harden Pakistani hearts against the US.

But what exactly happened in Baizai?

The Washington Post’s Karen de Young and Joshua Partlow have by far the best piece, reporting that an Afghan special forces unit, working together with US Special Operations soldiers, had been conducting a nighttime raid on a suspected Taliban insurgent base when they came under cross border fire. The Afghan-US units called in air support, and the US bombs apparently hit the Pakistani border post.

Was Pakistan alerted that the Afghan-US raid would occur that night? Some US sources say yes, but Pakistan says no.

This quote from an unnamed US official indicates that there is still a lot of dust left to settle.

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