Pakistan to reopen key supply route to Afghanistan, after US apology (+video)
'We are sorry,' Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about a December attack near the Afghanistan border that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. That sticking point resolved, a key supply route will reopen, but US-Pakistan ties are weaker now.
The United States relented and formally apologized to Pakistan Tuesday for a border incident seven months ago in which 24 Pakistani soldiers died – paving the way for a reopening of critical supply routes for the war in Afghanistan.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a carefully worded statement Tuesday morning that was direct in its apology for the December attack by US helicopters on a Pakistani border outpost, and effusive in its praise of Pakistani leaders and their cooperation with the US.
“We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military,” Secretary Clinton said, using the S-word that President Obama had until now refused to use over the incident, as Pakistan had demanded. Before Tuesday, the US had gone only so far as to “regret” the loss of life.
RECOMMENDED: US aid in Pakistan: Where's the money going?
Clinton went on to say that “we are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again,” before concluding with “our deep appreciation to the Government and the people of Pakistan for their many sacrifices and their critical contribution to the ongoing fight against terrorism and extremism.”
The US apology resolved one of the touchiest disputes between the two countries in what has lately been a testy relationship. But it remains to be seen if the new tone signaled in Clinton’s statement carries over into real improvement in relations.
Some Pakistan analysts were quick to warn that the apology and resulting reopening of Pakistan’s border to NATO supplies into Afghanistan would of themselves do little to improve relations or prospects for security in Afghanistan.
“Merely re-opening the supply routes will not help the US achieve its objectives in Afghanistan because it does not address the fundamental problem of continuing Pakistani support for the Taliban and Haqqani network that are killing US and coalition forces on a daily basis in Afghanistan,” says Lisa Curtis, a South Asia expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “Pakistan has never explained – let alone apologized – for its lack of action against the enemies of the US that find sanctuary on its soil,” she says.
Pakistan immediately closed its borders to the transport of NATO supplies into Afghanistan after the Nov. 26 border attack, costing the US and its NATO allies hundreds of millions of dollars in higher transport outlays for more expensive routes and transport methods.