Pakistani Politicians Blast U.S. Bombing
By RIAZ KHAN
AP- 1 January: PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Pakistani politicians voiced outrage Wednesday after a weekend border clash that prompted a U.S. warplane to bomb a site near or inside the Pakistani border.
The retaliation airstrike came after a U.S. soldier was shot in the head by a man dressed as a Pakistani border guard.
Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Rashid Quereshi discounted reports that the plane struck inside Pakistan.
"An impression has been created that Pakistani territory was bombed, but this is not true," he told The Associated Press Wednesday. "So far, we know the bomb landed in Afghan territory."
The injured American, who has not been identified, was grazed in the head Sunday and flown to a U.S. military medical center in Landstuhl, Germany, where he was in stable condition.
The incident occurred Sunday near the Afghan town of Shkhin along the border with Pakistan, but military spokesmen only revealed details about the shooting days later.
A U.S. F-16 fighter jet was called in to attack a building that the assailant had run into, but U.S. military spokesman Maj. Stephen Clutter said he didn't know whether the man had been killed.
Residents in the remote South Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan said Monday that U.S. bombs fell on the compound of an abandoned religious school in Burmol village, about 220 miles southwest of Peshawar. There were no reports of injuries.
A resolution condemning the United States was adopted Wednesday by the North West Frontier legislature in northwest Pakistan, a stronghold of anti-American Islamic groups. The measure demanded that Pakistan protest to Washington.
"American jets have violated the air and geographic frontiers of Pakistan," a sponsor of the resolution, Ikramullah Shahid, said. "This house demands that the federal government take our protest to the U.S. authorities."
Legislator Qazi Hussein Ahmadami said top Pakistani leaders did not react strongly enough when the incident came to light.
"Our country is like an orphan," he said. "There was no protest. This is tragic."
Clutter, speaking from Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, the Afghan capital, said American and Pakistani troops were working together at the time to blow up a cache of munitions, when the shooter was told to leave the area. Instead he got into a crouching position and began firing. Clutter said the attacker may have been impersonating a Pakistani border guard.
"I can't speculate what was in his mind, but it was certainly a bad move on his part," he said.
Clutter downplayed the effects of the skirmish on U.S.-Pakistani cooperation. That partnership began after the Sept. 11 attacks in the Washington and New York as Washington geared up to overthrow the Islamic Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
"Pakistan has been a loyal ally and I'm sure they're just as concerned about (this incident) as we are, if in fact he (the attacker) was a member of their force," Clutter said.
Talat Masood, a former Pakistani army general, also dismissed the shooting and bombing as an isolated incident.
"I do not think it will have wider consequences," he said. "But both sides should be more careful so that these type of incidents do not occur again."
The resolution in the Northwest Frontier legislature was introduced by the anti-American Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, or United Action Forum, that rules in the provincial government.
The religious alliance, with its pro-Taliban rhetoric and opposition to the U.S. war against terror, made sweeping gains in the region in October general elections in Pakistan.
Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are believed sheltering in the border region.
But Clutter said Tuesday that remnants of Taliban fighters and their al-Qaida allies operating in Afghanistan and along the Pakistani border were increasingly desperate.
"They feel the noose tightening," he said. "They don't like us there, they don't' like what we're doing to their operations. And essentially, the most that they're able to do is these harassment type of activities."