US Helicopters Fired on By Pakistani Troops

Pakistani troops fired on US military helicopters on Thursday. Pakistani officials insisted that the helicopters, which were not hit, had strayed into Pakistani territory. The Pentagon denied this charge. President Asaf Ali Zardari, meeting with US Secretary of State Condi Rice, attempted to paper over the incident, asseting that the Pakistani troops had only been firing flares to mark the border for their American colleagues.

If the Pakistani troops had managed to hit the US helicopters, the latter would have fired back, creating a serious international incident.

In fact,such an exchange of fire took place this past summer between the US and Pakistan, leaving 11 Pakistani troops dead. The cover story at the time had been that the Pakistanis were killed accidentally.

Apparently, along the border there has been a hot war going on for some time between US and Pakistani forces, since Pakistani border patrols support the Taliban over the foreigners.

These incidents do not affect cordial US-Pakistani relations, since everyone knows they are not ordered by the prime minister or president in Islamabad.

Afghanistan has called for joint patrols with Pakistan along their mutual borders.

Aljazeera English reports on the Afghan reaction to the US presidential elections. AFghan elders advise against increasing the number of foreign troops in the country.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer answers questions about the mission in Afghanistan. Scheffer disagrees with the Afghans interviewed above, and wants more troops in Afghanistan. He predicts that Afghanistan will be a central issue for the next American president.

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