The call for the investigation by the army chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, reverses the army's initial reaction when the video first surfaced last month. At that time, military authorities called the video fake and denied that any Pakistani soldier could be involved in extrajudicial killings.
The new tough line from the White House in the report to Congress comes as the president Barack Obama faces increasing pressure from fellow Democrats to get tough with Pakistan. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested in a speech last week that the Pakistani government is selective in its crackdowns.
The report is also extremely tough on Pakistan’s human rights record.
“Over 1.5 million people are still displaced from Pakistani military operations to combat insurgents in the northwest; and there was a lack of progress on improvements in human rights,” the report said. “Reports of gross violations of human rights continued. There was some evidence that the Pakistani military has made initial efforts to stop these abuses. However, despite U.S. engagement on the issue, reports of ongoing abuses continue to surface.”
The U.S. officials said last week they had asked Pakistan for information about the Internet video purporting to show Pakistani troops lined up in a firing squad shooting bound and blindfolded men in traditional Pakistani clothing.
The video, which has been circulating on the internet for weeks has renewed long-standing concerns about military human rights violations during operations against the Taliban.
Human Rights Watch this year briefed the U.S. State Department and congressional officials about evidence of more than 200 summary executions of suspected Taliban sympathizers by Pakistani soldiers in Swat, a former Taliban stronghold. Pakistan denied the allegations.
According to an article published in guardian If authenticated it could jeopardise $2bn (£1.2bn) in US military subsidies to Pakistan, under a law that prohibits funding of foreign armies with a record of gross human rights abuses.
Announcing the board of inquiry this morning, General Kayani said it would determine the veracity of the video, including the identity of the executioners wearing Pakistani army soldiers’ uniforms.
Appearing to take a tough stance, he said: “It is not expected of a professional army to engage in excesses against the people whom it is trying to guard against the scourge of terrorism,” he said.
But he added that in the past Pakistani militants have posed as soldiers.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Friday ordered an inquiry into an Internet video that shows men in military uniforms executing six young men in civilian clothes. The COAS said in a statement that he has ordered setting up of a board of inquiry to establish the true identity of uniformed personnel and the veracity of the video footage.
‘The board will be headed by a Major General, a two star officer of Pakistan Army. He will be assisted by two / three senior officers with the experience of investigating into such incidents. Necessary technical expertise will be made available to the board’, the statement said.
General Kayani referred back to his Command Directive on the issues of Human Rights and Extra Judicial Killings, and stated that such violations of his orders, if true, will not be tolerated.
He categorically stated that it is not expected of a professional army to engage in excesses against the people whom it is trying to guard against the scourge of terrorism.
Expressing his determination to take strictest possible disciplinary action against the perpetrators, if identified to be soldiers of Pakistan Army, he termed the incident as unacceptable under any circumstances. He emphasized that Rules of Engagement (ROE) are sacrosanct.
He, however, cautioned against reaching hasty conclusions about involvement of Pakistan Army soldiers. He pointed out that in order to hide their identities, cause confusion and malign Pakistan Army; terrorists have previously been disguising themselves as Pakistan Army soldiers during a number of attacks including the one on GHQ.
General Kayani also directed commanders at all levels to be vigilant and follow the Army policy of zero tolerance in such cases in true letter and spirit.
The Pakistani military has earlier said the incident was staged to discredit Pakistan, and the authenticity of the video could not be confirmed.
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said he would take “the strictest possible disciplinary action” if the shooters are found to be Pakistani soldiers, the military said Friday. But he cautioned against a rush to judgment, saying that militants have, in some cases, disguised themselves as soldiers during attacks to “hide their identities, cause confusion and malign” the army, according to a statement from the military’s Inter Services Public Relations department.
Exxtra-Judicial killings: Tell the public what you know
A couple of video clips have been circulating of army personnel involved in extra-judicial killings and beatings of captured militants. For several days the Pakistani media offered no coverage of the news of the circulating videos. Only after foreign journalists started reporting on the events did the local media care to publish the news.
The duplicity is annoyingly obvious. Articles published in the local press, contain clear denials and claims that the videos are conspiracies against the military. There is no suggestion up till today, of any investigation or any explanation.
However, to the foreign press the same news comes with eitherPakistani officials promising to investigate, or muted denials the incidents or retired Pakistani officers claiming that the videos are authentic.
For one, it’s not only the Pakistan Army that is being maligned by these videos. The Army serves Pakistan, of which every citizen of Pakistan has ownership. If the videos are authentic, then the people of Pakistan have a right to know why the name of their country is being tarnished, what will come off the perpetrators, and what efforts will be made to make sure that such cases do not take place again. If the videos are fake, then the people of Pakistan have a right to know who is making these forgeries, and how they are going to be dealt with.
There has long been a chorus of accusations surrounding extra-judicial killings. The HRCP estimates up to 273 deaths. Either way, remaining silent and not even offering the Pakistani people a transparent insight into the to an institution that society warrants to take up arms is offensive to the spirit of the constitution and the claims of discipline within the military that so many people are proud of. Can we please have some accountability?
What are we doing about Nato attacks?
The recent escalation in drone and helicopter gunship attacks that left three Frontier Corps personnel dead, predictably lead to mass outrage. This is not the first time a cross border attack has left Pakistani personnel dead. 11 were killed in a similar incident in 2008. Then nothing happened, and today nothing has happened. While NATO trucks were stopped from crossing the Torkham Border.
Everyone hailed Pakistan’s action as a display of our sovereignty; all the while the border at Chaman remained open. Were we actually stopping the NATO supplies as a sign of protest, or were they stopped for their own protection?
The military runs Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan, however, the military doesn’t seem to clarify what our stance towards hot pursuit by NATO forces, the claims that the CIA runs a mercenary Afghan army that crosses into Pakistan, and reports that NATO may pursue retreating militants up to 6 miles into Pakistani territory is.
The military seems content to allow Rehman Malik to make statements about possible reaction to NATO’s “aggression” and how it is so “intolerable”.
The people of Pakistan have a right to know what is going on.