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US military report shares blame on NATO bombing of Pakistani soldiers (VIDEO)

Relations between US and Pakistan have soured so much that the report on the NATO bombing is likely to have little effect. Instead, Pakistanis fret about rumors of a possible military coup.

By Scott BaldaufStaff Writer / December 23, 2011

Protesters hold placards with the image of US President Barack Obama and the US Flag during an anti-American and anti-NATO demonstration in Larkana, Thursday. Pakistan is saying the NATO report on the bombardment of two Pakistani checkpoints is short on facts. The report placed blame on both the US and Pakistan.

Nadeem Soomro/Reuters

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A US military investigation into the Nov. 26 NATO bombardment of two Pakistani checkpoints has cast blame on both the Americans and the Pakistanis. The report, released yesterday, said that the Americans failed to share crucial information about their future military movements because its commanders didn’t trust their Pakistani counterparts, but also said that Pakistani troops fired on a joint US-Afghan patrol, even after the joint patrol identified itself.

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NATO bombs killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, an event that worsened already bad relations between the two supposed allies. The report doesn’t appear to have improved matters. Pakistani military officials rejected the report, with Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas calling it “short on facts.”

Pakistan’s army does not agree with the findings of the US/Nato inquiry as being reported in the media,” Gen. Abbas told reporters in Islamabad. “The inquiry report is short on facts.”

The Nov. 26 incident occurred when a joint US-Afghan commando raid on a supposed militant camp on the Afghan-Pakistan border apparently stumbled onto a Pakistani paramilitary force instead. US investigators say the Afghans and Americans came under fire, and called in for air support when the Pakistani patrol continued to fire.

The Afghan-Pakistani border is notoriously porous and poorly marked, so in a sense, it is surprising that more of these events don’t occur. It is likely that the US and Afghan patrol would have operated with GPS equipment, with villages, border lines, and specific coordinates for their target clearly marked at all times. But the winding trails that border residents take to reach pastureland or marketplaces don’t respect boundaries, and it’s plausible that either the joint Afghan-US patrol and the Pakistani soldiers may have gone astray.

The Nov. 26 NATO bombing attack couldn’t have come at a worse time in US-Pakistani relations. Many Pakistanis were already angered by a series of US military drone attacks within Pakistani airspace, the arrest of a CIA contractor Raymond Davis in a double-murder case, and finally, the US military raid, on Pakistani soil, that killed Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad on May 1.

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