An Internet video showing men in Pakistani military uniforms executing six young men in civilian clothes has heightened concerns about unlawful killings by Pakistani soldiers supported by the United States, American officials said.
The authenticity of the five-and-a-half-minute video, which shows the killing of the six men — some of whom appear to be teenagers, blindfolded, with their hands bound behind their backs — has not been formally verified by the American government. The Pakistani military said it was faked by militants.
But American officials, who did not want to be identified because of the explosive nature of the video, said it appeared to be credible, as did retired American military officers and intelligence analysts who have viewed it.
So, what happens now?
The video adds to reports under review at the State Department and the Pentagon that Pakistani Army units have summarily executed prisoners and civilians in areas where they have opened offensives against the Taliban, administration officials said.
The reports could have serious implications for relations between the militaries. American law requires that the United States cut off financing to units of foreign militaries that are found to have committed gross violations of human rights.
But never has that law been applied to so strategic a partner as Pakistan, whose military has received more than $10 billion in American support since 2001 for its cooperation in fighting militants from the Taliban and Al Qaeda based inside the country.
Holding your breath? Best you don't.