NATO Airstrike Played Right Into Pakistani Insurgents’ Hands

Not everyone is outraged by the NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Wall Street Journal reports:

As Pakistan’s top leaders gathered Sunday to bury 24 Pakistani soldiers killed by NATO airstrike [two] Afghan officials working in the border area where the attack took place said Sunday that the joint [NATO-Afghan] force was targeting Taliban forces in the area when it received fire from the Pakistan military outpost.

Wait: why would Pakistani soldiers be firing upon NATO and Afghan forces — seemingly in defense of Taliban forces? They weren’t, of course.

A U.S. official in Kabul said insurgents may have been firing into Afghanistan near the Pakistani border outpost Saturday morning, which prompted coalition forces to strike back. … “It was a situation where insurgent forces butted right up against a Pakistani border post and used that as a firing position. When we fired back, we hit Pakistani security forces.”

In other words, Pakistani insurgents got NATO, with its helicopters and fighters, to do its work for it and attack Pakistani military forces, as well as sow yet more discord between Pakistan and the United States. As for relations between those two:

“This is a need-based relationship. It will have its temporary hiccup, probably in the form of the suspension of NATO cargo,” said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Center for Research and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank.

But

In September 2010, a NATO helicopter attack on a Pakistani border post in the tribal regions killed two soldiers. Pakistan closed traffic for NATO convoys for a few days but later reopened the route. … Since that incident, which blew over, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has deteriorated.

And, of course

Pakistan’s army was embarrassed and angered by the covert raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in May that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani army garrison town. That came after a Central Intelligence Agency contractor shot dead two armed men in Lahore in January and was briefly jailed.

More than a hiccup, the NATO strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers may be another nail in the coffin of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship.