The Pakistan/Afghanistan border has become the focus of what appears to be a friendly fire incident when NATO helicopters and fighter jets bombed two outposts manned by Pakistani soldiers. The raid killed 28 Pakistanis and plunged the already seriously strained relations between the two countries into another crisis.
NATO helicopters and fighter jets attacked two military outposts in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing as many as 28 troops and plunging U.S.-Pakistan relations, already deeply frayed, further into crisis.
Pakistan retaliated by shutting down vital NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, used for sending in almost half of the alliance's non-lethal materiel.
The attack is the worst single incident of its kind since Pakistan uneasily allied itself with Washington in the days immediately following the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. targets.
The Pakistani government and military brimmed with fury.
"This is an attack on Pakistan's sovereignty," said Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. "We will not let any harm come to Pakistan's sovereignty and solidarity."
The Foreign Office said it would take up the matter "in the strongest terms" with NATO and the United States.
The powerful Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, said in a statement issued by the Pakistani military that "all necessary steps be under taken for an effective response to this irresponsible act.
"A strong protest has been launched with NATO/ISAF in which it has been demanded that strong and urgent action be taken against those responsible for this aggression."
The future is extremely unpredictable. This is the sort of thing that will bring people into the streets, with Islamists and anti-American factions taking full advantage of the incident for their own political purposes. Expect a rough couple of weeks for US-Pakistan relations but in the end, some sort of accommodation will be reached and the supplies will be delivered again.
As for future cooperation in rooting out the Taliban from their mountain fortresses, that may be a different story. Our drone attacks have been very successful in striking at the leadership of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But they are highly dependent on intel passed on by the Pakistani ISI and military. That cooperation may dry up in the aftermath of this incident, which will hinder our operations in the Northwest Frontier Provinces.