NATO, Pakistan exchange fire on Af-Pak border

posted at 10:12 am on May 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Senator John Kerry flew to Pakistan this weekend to smooth over the rupture in relations between the US and Pakistan following the raid that killed Osama bin Laden within walking distance of Pakistan’s military academy.  What kind of progress did Kerry make?  The New York Times reports that Pakistani forces fired on NATO helicopters over Pakistani territory, sparking a skirmish that left two Pakistanis wounded:

Pakistani ground troops opened fire on twoNATO helicopters that crossed into Pakistan’s airspace from Afghanistan early Tuesday morning, the Pakistani Army said in a statement. A firefight then briefly erupted between NATO forces and the troops, the statement said, and two Pakistani soldiers were wounded.

The clash took place at Admi Kot Post in the North Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan, an area that American officials have long regarded as a haven used by militants to attack coalition forces inside Afghanistan. NATO officials said they were looking into the incident, and could not immediately confirm whether the helicopters had indeed entered Pakistan’s airspace.

The exchange of fire between NATO and Pakistani forces appeared likely to worsen frictions between Pakistan and the United States. The Pakistani Army “lodged a strong protest and demanded a flag meeting,” the statement said, referring to a meeting between officials from Pakistan and NATO.

This isn’t the first time that the two sides have exchanged fire.  Eight months ago, a similar incident left two Pakistani soldiers dead.  NATO has operated in Waziristan with tacit unofficial permission while Pakistan’s government protests the incursions, but it’s still a violation of Pakistani airspace, and reactions like these will occur whether Islamabad turns a blind eye or not.

Still, coming so soon after the OBL raid, it does appear that the Gilani government — or at least the Army — wants to send a message to NATO about further cooperation in the war in Afghanistan.  Gilani himself flew to China to improve ties, which the Times reports is an unsubtle signal to the US that Pakistan has other options than the US.

All of this makes Kerry’s mission very, very difficult from the start.  According to McClatchy, it doesn’t appear to be going well:

The United States and Pakistan sought Monday to avert a rupture in relations over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, but it was unclear how much progress they made beyond a vague accord to “work together” on future operations against “high value” militants hiding in Pakistan.

Pakistani civilian and military leaders also agreed in talks with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., to return the wreckage of a top-secret, radar-evading U.S. helicopter that was damaged and intentionally destroyed during the May 2 assault by U.S. Navy SEALs on bin Laden’s hideout.

It was clear, however, that Kerry and his interlocutors made little headway on the core disputes that had plunged relations between the putative allies to their most acrimonious level in 10 years even before the raid that embarrassed and enraged Pakistan’s powerful military, which was only informed after it was over.

Kerry did his best to argue that the US didn’t withhold notification out of a lack of trust, but the “best” is still threadbare:

Kerry defended the administration’s decision not to inform Pakistan in advance of the raid, saying that few U.S. officials were taken into confidence, either.

“It was not a matter of trust, but imperative of operational security,” he said.

Well, yes, but the reason it was imperative of national security is because … we can’t trust the Pakistanis.  The point about US officials is true but irrelevant; we didn’t invade the US to conduct the mission.  We tried trusting the Pakistanis on an OBL mission during the Clinton presidency, and the Pakistanis tipped off OBL before we could get him.  Kerry’s doing his best to obliterate the obvious conclusion through diplo-speak, which is exactly what he’s supposed to do in this circumstance, but we shouldn’t be surprised to find that no one’s buying it, least of all the Pakistanis.

The eruption of a skirmish on the border will only complicate the issue for Kerry and the Obama administration.  The OBL mission was worth the price we’re paying with Pakistan now, but perhaps other border missions should be rethought for a while until we get the Pakistanis calmed down.  Unless we have hot data on a high-value target that we simply can’t pass up, the cost of further provocation may well be the war itself.


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Way to go, Kerry!

Maybe while you’re at it, you can head off to the Middle East next to take care of that minor disagreement between Israel and Hamas.

pilamaye on May 17, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Good thing NATO isn’t the U.S., eh fellows?

rogerb on May 17, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Heckuva job Kerry

cmsinaz on May 17, 2011 at 10:17 AM

empty suit, n., colloq., See Kerry, John.

MassVictim on May 17, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Flying to China to make friends with fellow thugs?

Time to cease the little fairy tale that the backward Pakis are going to be our pals, cozy up to India and tell the Paks to enjoy their impending doom.

Bishop on May 17, 2011 at 10:20 AM

If they feared us, and we let it be known(backed with action) that harboring terrorist is an Act of War, we wouldn’t have this problem.

jp on May 17, 2011 at 10:20 AM

He shoulda wore the blue dust suit.

catmman on May 17, 2011 at 10:21 AM

2nd that bishop

cmsinaz on May 17, 2011 at 10:21 AM

He served in Vietnam, you know.

OhioCoastie on May 17, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Kerry should be on the next flight to India. And make sure to deposit the blue airplane waste over Pakistan. Oh, and take the funding away as well.

search4truth on May 17, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Kerry defended the administration’s decision not to inform Pakistan in advance of the raid, saying that few U.S. officials were taken into confidence, either.
“It was not a matter of trust, but imperative of operational security,” he said.

Here we go. Now liberals are talking to the Pakistani’s as if they’re complete imbeciles too. Welcome to liberal America. Where liberals think they’re so smart, that answering in a trite, or round about way, is good enough.

*sigh*

capejasmine on May 17, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Senator John Kerry flew to Pakistan this weekend to smooth over the rupture in relations between the US and Pakistan following the raid that killed Osama bin Laden

Naive question: Why did they send Kerry? Normally this would be a job for the president, VP, or Sec. of State, wouldn’t it? Is the presidential team’s bench so thin that they have to call on Kerry?

jwolf on May 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM

John Kerry is working foreign policy? Really? John Kerry?
When did he go to work at the State Dept?
These people are winging it.

darwin-t on May 17, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Gee, John….why the long face?

search4truth on May 17, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Someone asked Oblabla if he had a clue and he responded that Monopoly was his game.

darwin-t on May 17, 2011 at 10:29 AM

Well, yes, but the reason it was imperative of national security is because … we can’t trust the Pakistanis. The point about US officials is true but irrelevant; we didn’t invade the US to conduct the mission.

It’s relevant..it means we can’t trust our politicians either.

a capella on May 17, 2011 at 10:29 AM

Naive question: Why did they send Kerry? Normally this would be a job for the president, VP, or Sec. of State, wouldn’t it? Is the presidential team’s bench so thin that they have to call on Kerry?

jwolf on May 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Weren’t there rumors circulating about Kerry being considered for the SoS job? Maybe they’re grooming him. Gawd, what a disaster he’d be. But it might be fun to have another election to fill a vacant Senate seat in Mass.

MassVictim on May 17, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Free Punjab!

ExpressoBold on May 17, 2011 at 10:31 AM

So we send a guy who claims he was in Cambodia on a stealth mission when he wasn’t to soothe relations after the US went on a steath mission that was.

Oh the irony.

booter on May 17, 2011 at 10:31 AM

My guess is, Kerry giving the Pakistani’s a portrait of himself wasn’t such a good idea. Afterall…it would look cheesy putting his face (the front panel from a box of Frankenberrys cereal) in a frame, and giving that as a diplomatic gift.

capejasmine on May 17, 2011 at 10:32 AM

The OBL mission was worth the price we’re paying with Pakistan now

which raises the question:

Is there a price Pakistan could make us pay that would exceed the benefit of the OBL mission? And if so, where is that line?

JohnGalt23 on May 17, 2011 at 10:33 AM

The OBL mission was worth the price we’re paying with Pakistan now, but perhaps other border missions should be rethought for a while until we get the Pakistanis calmed down. Unless we have hot data on a high-value target that we simply can’t pass up, the cost of further provocation may well be the war itself.

That is probably a feature rather than a bug, Ed.

Mord on May 17, 2011 at 10:35 AM

He served in Vietnam, you know.

OhioCoastie on May 17, 2011 at 10:22 AM

And was awarded the Purple Heart thrice!

Kafir on May 17, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Speak truth, and damn the consequences!

OldEnglish on May 17, 2011 at 10:38 AM

jwolf on May 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Why?

Because he has vast experience in chatting with enemies of our Republic.

[And no, I ain't gonna use a sarc tag...]

CPT. Charles on May 17, 2011 at 10:39 AM

From the McClatchy news item:

“It was agreed that all tracks of U.S.-Pakistani engagement need to be revisited,” said a joint statement issued two days after meetings between Kerry, acting as an Obama Administration envoy, and Pakistani leaders.

Isn’t there a ‘separation of powers’ issue here? Checks and balances? Shouldn’t Kerry have resigned from the Senate before taking on the task of Presidential envoy?

ss396 on May 17, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Good question SS

cmsinaz on May 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM

I hear Kerry was wounded in the exchange of fire.

EnochCain on May 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Pakistani official: You came into our country in a style reminiscent of Genghis Khan and you want us to say thank you?

John Kerry: No, no. Not like Genghis Khan and you are pronouncing that wrong.

Pakistani official: Listen, this is Pakistan. Genghis Khan invaded this country. We know Genghis Khan. So don’t tell us what his style was and how to pronounce his name.

John Kerry: Okay, ummm. Could we get our helicopter parts back at least?

Pakistani official: Sure, as soon as the Chinese are done with them. For a fee.

John Kerry: Ahh, yeah. Great. Thanks.

Rocks on May 17, 2011 at 10:46 AM

John Kerry is working foreign policy? Really? John Kerry?

When did he go to work at the State Dept?
These people are winging it.

darwin-t on May 17, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Someone else already said it, but I suppose its worth repeating: Wasn’t Hillary giving up the goat at the end of this term? Perhaps their grooming Kerry for the SoS job.

catmman on May 17, 2011 at 10:47 AM

PBHO couldn’t send Hillary, dodging sniper fire again, especially at her age would be hard on the old knees.

Bishop on May 17, 2011 at 10:47 AM

It was clear, however, that Kerry and his interlocutors made little headway on the core disputes….

Knowing Kerry, he most likely gave them that belittling, demeaning, I-Know-I-Am-Better-Than You” look of his and said “Hey, do you know who I am?”

It was pretty much downhill from that point on.

pilamaye on May 17, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Naive question: Why did they send Kerry? Normally this would be a job for the president, VP, or Sec. of State, wouldn’t it? Is the presidential team’s bench so thin that they have to call on Kerry?

jwolf on May 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Sec of State? A woman? You can’t send a woman to smooth over relations with the Paks. They’ll stone her!

Vince on May 17, 2011 at 10:49 AM

It’s great knowing that Hanoi John has our best interests at heart in Pakistan.

shick on May 17, 2011 at 10:50 AM

It’s great knowing that Hanoi John has our best interests at heart in Pakistan.

shick on May 17, 2011 at 10:50 AM
I should have labeled him Paris John.

shick on May 17, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Kerry was actually hoping to convince the Paks to allow him to moor his yacht in Karachi harbor, you know, to evade Mass state taxes on it.

Bishop on May 17, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Is the presidential team’s bench so thin that they have to call on Kerry?

jwolf on May 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM

He has important things to do like campaign and golf.

shick on May 17, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Send in….The Carter

Electrongod on May 17, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Yet, this bozo will be elected again

Hening on May 17, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Perhaps their grooming Kerry for the SoS job.

catmman on May 17, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps Kerry’s seat will filled by another Scott Brown RINO.

shick on May 17, 2011 at 10:58 AM

God bless our troops and keep them safe! Kerry isn’t halping and should stay out of the way.

Christien on May 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Yet, this bozo traitor will be elected again

Hening on May 17, 2011 at 10:56 AM

FIFY

shick on May 17, 2011 at 11:03 AM

“Here I come to save the DAY!……Jon Carry is on the WAY!”

joe btfsplk on May 17, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Obama’s 300, from the NYT, July 2008

Every day around 8 a.m., foreign policy aides at Senator Barack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters send him two e-mails: a briefing on major world developments over the previous 24 hours and a set of questions, accompanied by suggested answers, that the candidate is likely to be asked about international relations during the day.

Behind the e-mail messages is a tight-knit group of aides supported by a huge 300-person foreign policy campaign bureaucracy, organized like a mini State Department, to assist a candidate whose limited national security experience remains a concern to many voters.

Unlike George W. Bush, who entered the presidential race in 2000 with scant exposure to national security issues, Mr. Obama has served since his election to the Senate in 2004 on the Foreign Relations Committee and has had a running tutorial from aides steeped in the issues. His campaign says that he is well prepared and that he often alters and expands on the talking points provided to him by his foreign policy advisers.</blockquote>

Safety in numbers, I guess.

“This is not my foreign policy….somebody emailed it to me”

BobMbx on May 17, 2011 at 11:31 AM

It would be fun right about now to have the standard liberal question when it comes to U.S. foreign policy under Republican administrations — “Why do they hate us?” — posed to Senator Kerry. After all the bashing by Kerry and other liberals of the Bush policy decisions post-9/11, the schadenfreude it watching the haughty, French-looking now-senior Senator from Massachusetts explain this one would make for a fine YouTube comedy video.

jon1979 on May 17, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Scaramouche!

Del Dolemonte on May 17, 2011 at 11:46 AM

John Kerry(D)’s mission is made particularly difficult in that he is unsure of whose permission to get in order to make any concessions to the terror supporting state of Pakistan.

DANEgerus on May 17, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Now wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute here!

I thought Pakistan had little or no control at all over these “tribal areas” along the Afghan border, which is why the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other militant groups are able to operate freely.

So now we are expected to believe that Pakistan cannot be held responsible for what goes on in those areas because they have no control over them, but that they have enough control to enforce the border?

I call BS!

One way or the other, Paki-scum. Remember we won’t always have a spineless weak sister President. One day you jerks may wake up to a country smooth as glass, with a nice warm glow.

Adjoran on May 17, 2011 at 2:56 PM

If they feared us, and we let it be known(backed with action) that harboring terrorist is an Act of War, we wouldn’t have this problem.

jp on May 17, 2011 at 10:20 AM

We threatened them directly after 9-11, but too much time has passed since then, and we’re not angry enough anymore. This is probably a good thing. War is awful. Pakistan is turning rogue though.

scotash on May 17, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Pakistan has been firing on US forces since the Afgan war began.

Friendly21 on May 17, 2011 at 7:14 PM