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December 27, 2011

US makes probe report public

 
December 27, 2011

WASHINGTON: The US Central Command on Monday made public its investigation into the November cross-border engagement with Pakistani military forces that resulted in the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers and plunging to a new ebb the crucial anti-terror relationship between the two nations.
“The strongest take-away from this incident is the fundamental fact that we must improve border coordination and this requires a foundational level of trust on both sides of the border,” said Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of Central Command, in a statement about the report. Mattis listed a number of recommendations, highlighting the lack of trust and urging honest communications across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
He suggested establishment of “an environment of improved, mutual trust,” with clear-cut “responsibilities, and standard operating procedures” while implementing “a program of full disclosure of all border area facilities and installations.”
Mattis directed Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), to enhance sharing with the Pakistan military and harmonize “where feasible, ISAF and OEF Rules of Engagement to promote clarity and transparency.”
Earlier, Pakistan refused to even listen to a briefing on the CENTCOM investigation into the cross-border incident. However, the U.S. State Department commented that Pakistan had not refused, just postponed the acceptance of the report.
Toner said, “I wouldn’t exactly agree with your characterization,” when he was asked about a report that Mattis was ready to brief Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the issue but Pakistan did not accept the offer. Citing “some internal political dynamics right now in Pakistan,” Toner said, “They felt it was best to postpone it to a later date.”