Pakistan-United States skirmishes

Pakistan-United States skirmishes
Part of American war in Afghanistan
Date 2008 - Present
Location Durand Line, Western Pakistan
Status On-going (not officially declared)
 United States

United States Armed Forces


Pakistan Armed Forces

Commanders and leaders
Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton
Leon Panetta
Gen David Petraeus
Gen John Allen
Adm Mike Mullen
Gen Tommy Franks
Gen Stanley McCrystal
Yousaf Raza Gillani
Asif Ali Zardari
Hina Rabbani Khar
Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani
Gen Shamim Wynne
Adm Nouman Bashir
ACM Rao Suleman
Gen Masood Aslam
Units involved
ISAF Coalition Forces
USAF Afghan Command
U.S. Forces–Afghanistan
NATO Afghanistan Mission
CST Afghan Command
Western Command
Casualties and losses
15 soldiers killed[1] 29 soldiers killed

The border skirmishes between the United States and Pakistan are the military engagement and confrontations took place in Pakistan's north-western territory since late 2008. These incidents have involved the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Command and ISAF forces, who have been present in Afghanistan fighting the War on Terror since 2001, and the unified Western military command of Pakistan Armed Forces. Most of the exchanges have been indirect and direct friendly fires.


Since the beginning of the war on terror in 2001 and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban and al-Qaeda movement, the U.S. has launched several air strikes across into northwest Pakistan to target militants connected with the Afghanistan war who it alleges have fled the country and sought temporary shelter in Pakistan's bordering tribal areas. These strikes have been protested by Pakistan, as a violation of national sovereignty, and have resulted in tense diplomatic relations between the two countries. They have also caused an uproar among Pakistan's civilian population and politicians and have fueled anti-American sentiments. Since June 2004,[2] the United States military has launched dozens of unmanned aerial vehicle strikes against presumed Taliban targets, killing hundreds[2] of militants and civilians.[3] These drone strikes have been subject to heavy criticism from Pakistan, which maintains that they are not the best way to fight terror and that they will have the inevitable result of uniting the tribesmen along the border with Taliban and against the U.S. Pakistan has previously coordinated with the U.S. on missile strikes but the U.S. has since conducted strikes without informing Pakistani authorities.[4] Pakistani troops were then ordered to counter act. Several specific actions developed, although no serious diplomatic spats on either side have been reported yet. The actions are listed below.


Gora Prai incident

Main article: Gora Prai airstrike

On 10 June 2008, 10 Pakistani paramilitary troops from the Frontier Corps and a Pakistan Army major, were killed by a US airstrike in Pakistani tribal areas, along with 8 Taliban fighters. The airstrike occurred following clashes between Taliban fighters and US troops along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Taliban fighters had fled across the border into Pakistan, and two US F-15E strike fighters and a B-1 bomber then entered Pakistani airspace and dropped about a dozen 500-pound laser-guided bombs.[5]

Standoff of September 15, 2008

Pakistani troops fired warning shots into the air to deter U.S. troops from entering Pakistan. It occurred on the Afghan side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border close to Angoor Ada, some 30 kilometers from Wana, the main town in South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

Seven US helicopter gunships and two troop-carrying Chinook helicopters landed on the Afghan side of the border, in the Afghan province of Paktika, where US troops then tried to cross the border into Pakistan. As they did so, Pakistani paramilitary soldiers at a checkpoint began firing warning shots into the air and the US troops decided not to continue forward. The firing reportedly lasted for several hours. Local tribesmen also evacuated their homes and took up defensive positions in the mountains after placing women and children out of harm's way.[6]

The standoff occurred less than two weeks after the 3 September 2008 Angoor Ada raid, during which U.S. Special Forces conducted a raid inside Pakistani territory. That incident caused much consternation and protests in Pakistan, with claims of Pakistan's sovereignty being violated.

Lowara Mandi incident

On 21 September 2008 at 10 pm local time, in the Ghulam Khan district of North Waziristan Pakistani soldiers fired on two American helicopter gunships that entered Pakistani airspace with 12.7 mm heavy machine guns. The helicopters stopped and hovered for a while, before returning over the border to Afghanistan without retaliation. It is unknown if any of the helicopters sustained any damage in this first incident.[7][8]

Thirty minutes later, two gunships attempted to cross the border again at the same place. Pakistani regular and Frontier Corps troops fired warning shots into the air and away from the helicopters, causing the helicopters to turn back without attacking any targets in Pakistan.[9]

Tanai incident

On 25 September 2008 Pakistani troops fired on two American OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance helicopters. U.S. ground troops who the helicopters were supporting returned fire. No one was injured on either side and the helicopters were undamaged. American and NATO officials asserted that the helicopters were flying within Afghan territory to protect an armed patrol. Pakistani officials declared that the helicopters were inside Pakistani territory and were fired upon by "flares" as a warning.[10]

Kurram incident

On 30 September 2010. U.S. helicopters entered Pakistani airspace after ground troops determined that a mortar attack by militants in Pakistan was imminent, according to the Coalition. Pakistani Frontier Corps troops manning the Mandata Kadaho border post fired warning shots, and the helicopters responded by firing two missiles that destroyed the post. Three soldiers were killed and another three wounded. Pakistan responded by closing a key NATO supply route for eleven days.[11]

Datta Khel incident

On May 17, 2011, a skirmish between a U.S. helicopter and Pakistani forces took place in the Datta Khel area. According to NATO, an American base along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border took direct and indirect fire from Pakistan. Two U.S. helicopters flew into the area. According to the Pakistani military, the helicopters had breached its airspace. Pakistani forces fired at a helicopter twice, and the helicopter returned fire, injuring two soldiers. Pakistan reportedly deployed two attack helicopters, which arrived after the U.S. helicopters had left.[12][13]

Salala incident

Main article: 2011 NATO attack in Pakistan

On 26 November 2011, 28 Pakistani soldiers,[14] including 2 officers,[15][16][17] were killed and the remainder injured in an attack on two Pakistani border posts in Mohmand tribal region by NATO Apache helicopters, an AC-130 gunship and fighter jets.[18][19] There were a total of 40 soldiers present in the check post and the raid took place at night while most of them were sleeping or resting.[19][20][21] The attack was the deadliest strike to date on Pakistani soil by NATO.[22] Pakistan claimed that there was no militant activity along the Afghan border region when NATO conducted the attack.[23] Pakistan immediately suspended all NATO supplies to Afghanistan in the aftermath of the attack.[19][23][24] Pakistan later also ordered the U.S. to completely shut down operations and vacate the Shamsi Airfield in Balochistan, which the U.S. reportedly uses for launching drone attacks in Pakistan, within a time frame of 15 days.[3][25]

The retired Brigadier Mahmood Shah, former chief of security in the tribal areas, said that so far the U.S. has blamed Pakistan for all that is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan's point of view has not been shown in the international media, so the matter should be taken up by the United Nations Security Council. He has advised Pakistani authorities to shoot down NATO aircraft should a similar event take place in the future, and to keep the supply lines closed, on the argument that the U.S. cannot afford a war with Pakistan.[26][27][28][29][30]

See also


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