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US compensation offer rejected: Pak Army did not fire first: ISPR

Published Dec 24, 2011 02:00am

Gen Abbas gave no indication of when Pakistan might lift its embargo on Nato supplies to troops in Afghanistan. - File Photo

RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army on Friday rejected key findings from a US investigation into American air strikes last month that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and said the report was unlikely to repair the severely damaged relationship between the two countries.

The findings of the investigation were released on Thursday concluded that mistakes on both sides led to the deadly attack along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan has maintained its troops did nothing wrong and the attack was a deliberate act of aggression.

Pakistan refused to participate in the investigation, claiming past US probes into border incidents were biased.

It also retaliated against the attack by closing its border to Nato supplies meant for troops in Afghanistan and kicking the US out of a base used to operare American drones.

Pakistan's response, while not surprising, is likely to worry Washington since the country's support is critical for the Afghan war.

Pakistan not only provides a key route for supplies, but is important for peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Pakistan Army spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas rejected the report's claim that Pakistani troops fired at American and Afghan forces first, triggering the incident.

He said in an interview on Friday that Pakistani forces retaliated only after coalition helicopters 'started engagement'.

He also denied that Pakistan failed to notify Nato of the location of the two border posts that were attacked.

Gen Abbas expressed surprise and frustration that the US refused to apologise for the deaths of the soldiers, something many Pakistanis have demanded. He rejected an American offer to pay compensation to the victims' families, saying the army has its own welfare system.

'Nobody is interested in compensation,' he said. 'It is not in our military culture to take money for a fallen soldier. It is abhorred. We will take care of our own,' he said.

Gen Abbas repeated the army's claim that Pakistan had given Nato maps that clearly marked the location of the two outposts Volcano and Boulder located on a mountain ridge in the Mohmand tribal area.

He also said the Taliban do not use such structures.'Taliban do not make posts,' said Abbas. 'No insurgents make posts. It is a running war against insurgents.

Abbas accused Nato and Afghan forces of 'gross violations' of standard operating procedures, including not informing Pakistan that their forces would be conducting an overnight operation along the border on November 25-26 when the attack occurred.

He also accused US and Nato forces of ignoring established rules of engagement aimed at avoiding friendly fire incidents. These rules demand troops under attack contact Pakistan to determine whether fire is coming from one of the country's outposts.

He said Pakistan informed Nato forces in Afghanistan that the Volcano post had been hit, 'but they kept firing and hit Boulder as well as the reinforcements'  Gen Abbas gave no indication of when Pakistan might lift its embargo on Nato supplies to troops in Afghanistan.

However, he indicated the government would levy additional fees when the route is eventually reopened.

'You can't use our port, destroy our roads and get away without paying for it, he said.-AP