Saeed Shah in Islamabad
December 2, 2011
Pakistan’s military commanders have ordered their troops to return fire if they come under attack from Nato forces, raising the prospect of further deadly clashes along the country’s border with Afghanistan.
General Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief, gave the new order in response to the recent deaths of 24 soldiers when their border posts came under fire from Nato helicopters.
Kayani is under immense pressure from within his own ranks over the two-hour bombardment by the helicopters of an ally, to which the Pakistani air force did not respond. The incident piled further humiliation on a military still stung by the US special forces operation in May that killed Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan.
“I want to emphasise and leave no ambiguity in the rules of engagement for everyone down the chain of command,” Kayani said in a letter to his troops.