Pakistan fires on U.S. helicopters
Sunday's incident inflames debate over whether Pakistan's new president can develop an effective counterinsurgency strategy.
Pakistan's armed forces fired on US helicopters on Sunday, the latest incident in a growing standoff between Washington, frustrated with Pakistan's counterterrorism efforts, and a newly minted Pakistani president who has resisted yielding to American pressure.Skip to next paragraph
Israeli general hints at another Gaza campaign
Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria
See no evil? Activists doubt credibility of Arab League mission to Syria.
Arab League observers head to Syria's war-ravaged Homs
Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Pakistan's military said today [Sept. 16] its forces had received orders to fire on US troops if they entered Pakistani territory, after a cross-border raid inflamed public opinion.
The incident happened late on Sunday near Lwara Mundi village in the North Waziristan district, where Pakistani forces have been battling Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, they said.
"Pakistani forces fired at two US gunships which violated Pakistan's airspace and forced them to return to Afghanistan," a local security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"The helicopters flew back after our troops fired shots at them," the official said.
Time warns that the US and Pakistan have "become locked into a confusing and potentially dangerous game of brinkmanship" over Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan.
U.S. military strikes on Pakistani soil are provoking increasingly strident warnings from Pakistan's military and political leadership, and they are continuing despite Washington's reassurances about respecting Pakistani sovereignty. Still, many believe the Pakistanis are engaged in ritual denunciation of U.S. actions primarily for domestic political consumption.
The border incident comes amid a fast-raging debate, inside both Washington and Islamabad, over whether Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, can muster an effective counterinsurgency plan – one that pleases Washington but does not inflame local anger, reports The New York Times.
While he has pledged to continue fighting militants – now thriving in the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan – it was unclear whether he would face political resistance making it more difficult to keep that promise.
There has always been a strong feeling in Pakistani society that using force against militants would cause them to retaliate against civilians. ...
Mr. Zardari also faces pressure to avoid doing the bidding of the Bush administration, because Pakistanis are largely opposed to American policies in the region.