As reported by The New York Times, the United States military has decided that no service members will face disciplinary charges for their involvement in a NATO airstrike in November last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The US decision not to charge or try any of its service personnel for the November 26 fatal assault on our military’s Salala check post couldn’t be any surprising, given its track record. Not infrequently but many a time, the American soldiers and officers have been caught for committing the most heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity. But their military commanders and political leaders are always dodgy, stubbornly loath to put their delinquent personnel through their own justice system, let alone the international criminal law, to face the consequences of their heinous criminal acts. Their instant gut reaction is invariably that their service members couldn’t be sinners but only saints who act only when provoked. This has been throughout their specious stance in regard to their Salala thuggery. And this indeed was their deceptive stance even about the horrific My Lai cold-blooded massacre of innocent South Vietnamese in March 1968 until their deceit couldn’t hold in the face of damning incriminating proof surfacing globally. Scores of US soldiers who had descended on helicopters on the unfortunate Vietnamese village of about 700 people on the fateful day had done in at one fell swoop neatly 500 innocent children, women and elderly persons with savage gunfire. Yet the American commanders and their political bosses were at first in total denial of this mass slaughter by their servicemen. Rather, they were pridefully effusive of their “heroic deed”. But as clinching evidence started coming to the public fore, no lesser from the mouths of the soldiers themselves who in inebriation spilled the beans, one indeed bragged of his killing spree in a television encounter, both the military and political bosses were then all pretexts and excuses. Their one common refrain was that the village was infested with the Vietcong guerillas who had provoked the US servicemen’s reaction with their firing. This lie too was conclusively nailed as all the able-bodied Vietnamese had gone out of their village and were working in their paddy fields when the murderous attack was launched by the American soldiers on My Lai.Under the heat of global outrage and also some domestic pressure, the American lords had to institute an investigation and a trial of the sorts, albeit for form’s sake. Almost all the 26 soldiers put on trial were exonerated from the charge and released. Only a second lieutenant was convicted. And although he was found guilty of slaughtering 29 Vietnamese villagers, including several toddlers, his life sentence was reduced to three and a half years imprisonment by America’s president, which too he spent not in any jail but in his own home with his family under a lax house detention. So which irrepressible optimist was it in Islamabad who thought it was going to be any different with Salala holocaust from what it was with the My Lai massacre by the trigger-happy American soldiers?If anything, at least the way the Americans have recently dealt with their murderer-in-uniform of innocent sleeping children and women in the two villages of Kandahar in Afghanistan should dispel any illusion being harboured on this score by anyone in the Islamabad establishment. The American slayer of the Afghan innocent village folks was spirited away from Afghanistan even before full investigations could start into his savage butchery. The Afghan investigators question, and very correctly, that this slaughter couldn’t be the vile work of a lone murderer. According to their preliminary findings, at least 20 to 30 American rogue soldiers participated in this grisly orgy. But by taking him away from the scene, the Americans have made for the full truth about this slaughter to stay for ever under wraps. And although the sinning American soldier may have now been slapped with the murder charges at home, what it is that tells that his fate will not be any different from the second lieutenant of the My Lai infamy who was let off so lightly for a dreadful heinous crime? The upshot is someone in the Islamabad establishment has to think out that the slayers of our unsuspecting soldiers of the Salala post do not go scot-free and are brought to justice. This is all more important in view of America’s Afghan war having gone so irreversibly wrong visibly. Predictably, for their Afghan debacle the American commanders in all likelihood with the tacit, if not declared, consent of their bosses in the Obama administration would increasingly take on Pakistan to make a punching bag of it for their reverses in Afghanistan. Certainly, Salala is not going to be their first and last naked aggression on a Pakistani military post. Many more such thuggish assaults could be expected in times ahead, if not scotched right now.
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