Pak to re-open NATO supply routes as US apologises
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said that the US was “sorry” for the damages caused to Pakistani military, reports said.
Washington: In what could be a turning point for US-Pak ties, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday apologised for the NATO air raid last year, leading Pakistan to re-open the supply routes to Afghanistan.
Calling NATO airstrike on Salala checkpost last year in November a “mistake” , Hillary Clinton said that the US was “sorry” for the loss of Pakistani military lives.
"We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military," Clinton said.
The ties between the two nations have been on the rocks ever since the Nato forces attacked Salala checkpost last November, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The incident had caused much furore with Pak blocking the supply routes and going for a complete review of its ties with the US.
Pakistan also pitched for an end to US drone strikes inside Pakistan,and demanded a high-level apology before it would re-open the supply routes to Afghanistan.
Both the countries had to face the repercussions of this standoff, with Pakistan falling deeper into international isolation and the US incurring heavy financial losses.
Recently, Washington had said the closing of routes was costing it as much as USD 100 million a month to maintain supplies on alternate routes.
The seven months of ill-will between the two nations might come to an end as the US has been successful in getting the supply routes re-opened by Pakistan by issuing a statement, that is worded carefully enough, not to sound like an outright apology as the Obama administration is gearing up for the next general election this November.
"Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives," Hillary Clinton said in a statement.
"We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again," Clinton said.
Hillary said her Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, during a telephone talk, "informed me that the ground supply lines into Afghanistan are opening".
"Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee in the larger interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region. This is a tangible demonstration of Pakistan`s support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan and our shared objectives in the region."
Hillary’s statements came on the sidelines of a crucial meeting on security issues being held today by Pakistan`s highest decision-making body.
The meeting is expected to stipulate new terms of engagement with the US and the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.
The meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet is being chaired by new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and attended by key ministers, including Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, other service chiefs and ISI chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam, officials said.
Details of the arrangement for reopening the NATO supply lines were reportedly stitched together by Gen Kayani and Gen John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, who has visited Islamabad twice in less than a week.
Gen John Allen is also the one, who had offered a “personal apology” to General Kayani over the Salala incident, but Pakistan didn`t take it seriously, calling it “insufficient” and demanding a “proper” and “high-level” apology from the US.
It seems that Hillary’s apology may finally break the ice and see the ties between Washington and Islamabad thawing.
With PTI inputs