Pakistan mulling US’ offer of ``soft apology``

A senior US diplomat disclosed that the US’ offer on the apology issue had been communicated to Islamabad.

Islamabad: Pakistan is considering the latest US offer of a soft apology for the death of 24 soldiers in the Salala attack last year, hoping for a rapprochement with Washington.

A senior US diplomat disclosed that the US’ offer on the apology issue had been communicated to Islamabad, reports The Dawn.

"The ball is once again in Pakistan`s court," the diplomat said.

Although details of the US offer were not available, the apology to be tendered at a lower level is expected to be mild in language, the sources said.

The offer has coincided with some positive vibes from Washington. Two influential Senators - Dianne Feinstein and John McCain - have urged the Obama administration to move forward in the relationship with Pakistan.

The bipartisan Congressional advice helped White House ease its tough stance on the apology. Furthermore, the disclosure that the US was losing USD 100 million every month because of suspended supply routes, analysts say, may have been designed to minimise the political cost of an apology for the Obama presidential campaign.

"The Americans have showed a lot of flexibility," said a Pakistani official, who was aware of the latest offer.

Contrary to expectations in Islamabad of getting a package deal involving apology, cessation of drone attacks, assurance against a repeat of Salala-like attack and reimbursement of Coalition Support Fund, the offer is just about a toned down apology.

The biggest challenge in the way of getting the soft version of apology accepted by Pakistan will be to persuade the military to give its consent, states the paper. The Army was ready to accept the offer of an unconditional apology in February, which was on that occasion fumbled by the political leadership. But it may not be very keen about the milder version. The top brass, however, is also said to be mindful that relations with the US stand at a critical point, the paper added.