The main condition Pakistan has set for reopening Nato supply routes is a ‘formal apology’ from the United States over last year’s deadly air raid on Pakistan’s border post – even though the apology may not be a possibility.
A US official confirmed that Pakistan’s Foreign Office and Army wanted an apology for the airstrike by Nato warplanes on the Salala border post which killed over two dozen Pakistani troops in November.
“It’s not about the price,” the official told The Express Tribune, referring to reports that Islamabad and Washington had failed to agree on the cost per container that would be ferried to and from Afghanistan through Pakistani routes.
The official requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on record on the matter.
US officials have never said that there would be an apology, and nearly seven months after the strike, one has yet to be made. “That train left months ago,” said a source familiar with the discussions.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that US negotiators would be leaving Pakistan after spending over 45 days trying to work out a deal to re-open the Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs).
A former US official told The Express Tribune, “Given the time lag between the Salala strike and now, the US government has obviously determined to not apologise, despite repeated requests from Pakistan. The fact that Pakistan has few friends left in Washington shaped this decision.”
The official said that given the current circumstances, Pakistan should not expect Washington to offer an apology beyond the condolences it has already received.
“Ultimately, the failure to issue an unconditional and formal apology indicates just how strained ties have become – and at the most inopportune of times – when the US attempts to engineer its drawdown from Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s civilian government should ‘bite the bullet’ and reopen supply routes to Nato forces in order to ease tensions with the United States, a senior US official said on Tuesday.
“If the civilian government in Islamabad would bite the bullet and make the political decision to open the Ground Lines of Communication, that would deflect some of the negativity right now,” the official told Reuters.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM REUTERS)
Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.