Washington, (IANS) The top US military official has said US-Pakistani military-to-military relations “are a mess” after a NATO strike last month killed 24 Pakistani soldiers inflamed already raw nerves inside Pakistan.
“I can absolutely say that it wasn’t something that we did intentionally,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank Friday.
“Regrettably, the Pakistani military believes we did. We did not attack a Pakistan military border post intentionally. If you think we did, I’d have to ask you what in the world you’d think we would gain by doing that,” he was quoted as saying by the US defence department website.
Dempsey said he has spoken with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Other senior US officials have also spoken to their Pakistani counterparts, urging restraint and patience to let an inquiry board look into the incident and present its findings, he said.
The United States has invited Pakistan to participate in reviewing the incident, but Pakistan has so far declined, Pentagon officials said.
Meanwhile, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland declined comment on Dempsey’s “a mess” remark saying “I’m not going to comment on something I haven’t seen.
“But you know where we are with Pakistan, that this relationship is complicated, but it’s also essential to both the United States and Pakistan. And we are working very hard to keep open channels and to get back to work together.”
Top US officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have “obviously been in constant contact” with their counterparts in Pakistan and “continuing our intensive engagement,” she said.