Salala Attack and the Rhetoric of Friendly Fire and Collateral Damage

Editor’s Note: “The Senate Standing Committee on Defence heard the Director General of Military Operations tell it on Thursday that he believed the Nato attacks on the Salalah checkpost, which killed 24 soldiers on November 26, was deliberate.The only solution to this dilemma for both sides is for Pakistan to reconsider in its entirety its alliance with the USA. Being an ally has proved no protection against an unprovoked attack. It is therefore only logical for Pakistan to stop being part of the USA’s war on terror. The government may have certain self-imposed compulsions for the alliance, which it assumes keeps it in office, but if the price is Nato helicopters shooting down Pakistani troops, apologising for the deaths it will inevitably cause, the game is not worth the prize, and the government must put the national interest above the merely partisan”.EXCERPTS FROM EDITORIAL THE NATION:

Shared directly by author:

By: Brig. Mehboob Qadir(R)


There are sane and sympathetic voices out there speaking for Pakistan.One deeply appreciates the understanding and empathy that they show for our men and officers killed by NATO helicopters at Salala Post in Mohmand Agency.One is also very touchd by their  longing for the outside chance that it had not happened, and the brutality of ‘collateral’ deaths during otherwise effective drone attacks.They regret that Pakistani nation has been sentenced to suffer a relentless political emotional trauma eversince it came into being.These are very cheritable notions coming from hearts bleeding  for humanity but are few and far between.In any case such notions are not so fashionable in today’s cut throat political world and sensation ridden                             media.Treachery,manslaughter,massive destruction,spectacular scale of massacre by Daisy Cutter bombs,surprise destruction behind enemy lines by Stealth bombers, Abbotabad raid and dreadful craters dug out by Bunker Buster bombs are.The world has been turned into a medieval coliseum where decapitation and bloody decimation of captive men by armored gladiators draws cheerful applause from galleries around the globe.The only difference might be that the Caesar  sits in Washington and not Rome.It appears that the dogs of war  have been unleashed and given a free run.

   The invention of terms like ‘friendly fire’ and’collateral damage’ particularly the latter, is a stroke of  literary genius that even Machiaville would have failed to come up with. “Colateral damage’ is simply a brilliant conception.It is also completely evil and inhuman.But then it is truly reflective of severely psychopathic bent of mind of those who hide their guilt behind it.As it is a smokescreen that allows them to get away from moral and human responsibility of the homicide that they perpetrate.It also helps them sail over pangs of conscience if any.

  The concept of  collateral damage is in the same league as Serb racial cleansing or the extremely despicable ideology of mass killers like OBL and his depraved ilk.Serbs and the like pretended to serve some kind of a perverse, degenerate cause,but the deciples of the doctrine of collateral damage kill for the sake of killing only.That is what makes it so much more deplorable.More worrisome aspect of this wicked doctrine is that a massacre in battle at a given level converts into collateral damage at the next higher level.Therefore in order to escape direct and incriminating responsibility execution is allowed to those below and then the matter is pulled two or three steps up and described as collateral damage, misdirected friendly fire or what have you.There could be nothing more duplicitous and heartless.According to literary definition ,collateral damage is ‘unintended damage done to civilian life or property during military operation’.However it is being applied in much broader terms to possibly include incidents like the “mistaken “  NATO attack on Salala Post in the overall context of war in Afghanistan.

   Salala attack has a peculiarity.It was neither incidentally collateral, nor unintended or misdirected friendly fire.It was cold blooded, premeditated manslaughter, purely driven by hatred, arrogance of superior military power and the perverted glee that those  on the receiving end were unprepared, unprotected and under equipped to retaliate.How does NATO and ISAF High Command explain shooting rescue party and stretcher bearers one by one ,by returning and hovering all around these absolutely well marked positions after nearly an hour of the first helicopter attack?This tends to reflect the general animosity towards Pakistani troops that prevails in ISAF/NATO forces across the border stoked no less by the sinking realization of the impending failure in Afghanistan and utterly unfortunate  remarks by men like  Mullen, Panetta, this and that Congressman, journalist, think tank, a stink bug in the State or Treasury Departments ,or even a bartender in downtown Miami.

   It doesn’t  take rocket science to figure out that Coalition Forces seem to have reached the edge of the same precipice that saw the inglorious demise of past invaders.Alexander the Great had to bite a humble pie for the passage through Afghan territory. Persian Imperial forces had to beat repeated retreats .Whereas Czarist Russia waited more than 130 years on the banks of Amu Darya to invade and be defeated as Soviet Union.Mighty British Empire suffered humiliation twice; in one case only one horseman survived to tell the tale of horrible massacre.

   Afghanistan is one of the two roundabouts of history, that Toynbee said, affect the world events.The other is Syria.Whoever disrespects this edict suffers terribly.It is not a curse but a lesson of history that the US deliberately chose to ignore albeit at its own cost and peril.No amount of improvisation like long term Afghan bases for special operations, raising dubious militias in selected parts of the country or propping up dummies here and there will ever work.These fierce men have their own mechanisms ,civilized or not,of sorting out  their feuds and battles.Their time is elastic and not governed by neatly drawn time lines or imperatives of  election schedules elsewhere.

   No one is imagining a replay of a scene like the last British soldier trundling back  into

Jallalabad Fort after the whole expeditionary force was annihilated nor the last US soldier  being lifted by a helicopter from the US Embassy roof in Hanoi.It could be better it could be worse,But one thing is sure that the Afghans have begun to smell blood and are perhaps crouching  behind hills for the kill.While the proverbial road to and from Kabul runs through the Khyber Pass, the US have a way of doing things her own way, nevertheless.It doesn,t want to learn from others mistakes.It must walk into her own blunder before sense prevails.That means more bloodshed, more suffering and more misery.One wishes it was otherwise but that is not going to be.

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  • khan saheb  On December 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    The other side of the coin……

    U.S. officials, giving their first detailed explanation of the worst friendly-fire incident of the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, said an Afghan-led assault force that included American commandos were hunting Taliban militants when they came under fire from an encampment along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

    The commandos thought they were being fired upon by militants. But the assailants turned out to be Pakistani military personnel who had established a temporary campsite, U.S. officials said.
    According to the initial U.S. account from the field, the commandos requested airstrikes against the encampment, prompting the team to contact a joint border-control center to determine whether Pakistani forces were in the area, a U.S. official said.

    When called, the Pakistani representatives at the center said there were no Pakistani military forces in the area identified by the commandos, clearing the way for the Americans to conduct the airstrikes, the U.S. officials said.

    Obviously, with this US does not feel it shoud apologize and it will not. Calling it friendly fire will make it sound like a bad joke. In fact, many believe that Pak forces were complicit with the Taliban militants.

    This drama will continue only until a new one take over and a new scene emerges…….Shamsi, the empty groans to the US drones and the Raymond Davis-like operations will all continue, business-as-usual.

    Back to work at Memogate……………


  • Kelvin Federer  On January 8, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Only a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style .

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