Shades of grey wherever I go, The more that I find the less that I know, Black and white is how it should be, But the shades of grey are the colours I see. It has taken four and a half years for the truth to emerge and - given the prevalent state of affairs - it is no small blessing, yet the emergence of a Pentagon report exonerating Pakistan of any complicity in precipitating the death of a US Major at Teri Mangal in 2007, in a shooting incident, is instructive in many ways. It, certainly, helps in understanding the complexity of Pak-US relations, especially in gauging the tone and tenor of the military-to-military cooperation at the tactical level. Particularly evident is the depth of suspicions harboured in the US diplomatic-military mindset, by default or design, and the manner in which spin doctors in the US media are manipulating their powerful levers of information power to malign and coerce Pakistan. The lamentable shoot out on May 9, 2007, at Teri Mangal, close to the Pak-Afghan border in Kurram Agency that killed US Army Major Larry J. Bauguess, was a freak incident in the true sense of the word. He was part of a group of US and Afghan officers, who had come to hold a flag meeting with their Pakistani counterparts to resolve the issue related to the alignment of the boundary line in the rugged border terrain; a routine task undertaken by military commanders wherever soldiers face off across any dividing line. By all accounts, the meeting went well and the lunch followed. As the visitors took their leave and went on to the awaiting vehicles for a short hop to their helicopters, a lone gunman opened fire at Major Bauguess from close quarters, killing him instantly. This elicited a fusillade of retaliatory fire that not only killed the assassin, but also resulted into the death of six Pashtun civilians. The incident was regrettable and attack on the US troops, who had come for a flag meeting, in the Pakistani territory was a source of acute embarrassment and anguish for their hosts, yet the extremely prejudicial and accusatory manner in which the US and Afghan authorities responded to the issue was downright derogatory. The attacks on the US and the other allied officers in Afghanistan by lone gunmen belonging to various segments of the Afghan security forces and police are not unheard off and stoically accepted, as part of hazards faced by the foreign troops in the xenophobic environment of Afghanistan. Yet, in case of the Teri Mangal tragedy, this buffer of unavoidability was not allowed by the US media, who embarked upon a prolonged and vicious campaign to harangue and arm twist Pakistan. The latest salvo was fired by The New York Times as late as September 27, 2011, when it published a report titled Pakistanis tied to 2007 border ambush on Americans. Coming from the formidable pedestal of the Times, its repercussions ricocheted across the global media and discussion forums. The accusations were well synchronised; coming at a time when the Pak-US relations were touching unprecedented lows and Pakistan Army and ISI had emerged as the target for the US military brass as well as diplomats. Only days earlier Admiral Mike Mullen had delivered his unkind cut by saying that the Pakistani military and ISI had been manipulating the Haqqani network attacking the US Embassy in Kabul and other key targets inside Afghanistan. The story portrayed the episode as a deliberately planned ambush and published accounts of the incident by US and Afghan officers implying that the Majors death was caused by a complex, calculated assault by a nominal ally. According to the newspapers pernicious write-up, the assault involved multiple gunmen, Pakistani intelligence agents and military officers, and an attempt to kidnap or draw away the senior American and Afghan officials. The motives: Retaliate for the losses suffered by Pakistan Army in an accidental attack by the US forces; maintain morale among Pakistani troops; and to make a point to the Americans that they could not be pushed around. Only the penultimate paragraph of the long and vicious article carried a kernel of truth. Both Generals Helmly [then Defence Attach US Embassy Islamabad] and McNeill [Commanding General of the US troops at the time of the incident] accept as plausible that a lone member of the Frontier Corps, whether connected to the militants or pressured by them was responsible, but they also said that it was possible that a larger group of soldiers was acting in concert. The two generals said that there was no evidence that senior Pakistani officials had planned the attack; wise and objective words, but in this age of short attention span who reads that far? The facts related to the incident must have been established by the US military within a short time of the occurrence and could have been made public in the interest of the much needed good bilateral relations. Yet, the release of a Pentagon summary related to the incident, which exonerates the Pakistan Army of culpability in the death of Major Bauguess, even though it comes after a four-year long period of waiting and much mudslinging by the US media, is a happy development. It strongly underscores how powerful elements of the US media, without independent inquiry and objective reporting, are vitiating the obtaining environment by resorting to negative reporting and joining the US establishment to browbeat Pakistan into submission. The manipulative hand of the US establishment is also discernible in the thrusts of propaganda war waged against Pakistan in the context of the US travails in Afghanistan. More so, it is indicative of the vulnerability of the third world countries, like Pakistan, to the power of information at command of the advanced nations, who can manipulate any event to their advantage by turning the white of a truth into varying shades of grey to suit their ends. The writer is a retired brigadier and former defence attach in Australia and New Zealand. Email: