It has been three days since the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued an apology to her Pakistani counterpart for the November 26, 2011 Nato attack on a Pakistani military check-post in the tribal regions, which led to the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers. While the apology has led to the reopening of Nato supply routes to Afghanistan, it has also raised a plethora of questions and issues over Pakistan’s relationship with the US and how it will or will not change over the course of the coming months.
The decision to allow the resumption of supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan has come under severe criticism, which keeps on growing, from the opposition and religious parties. It has been, at the same time, hailed as a much-needed breakthrough in the deadlock with the world powers.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has insisted that the decision was taken “in the best interest” of the country, it is not clear if any major gains are to be achieved for Pakistan. As things stand, Pakistan will not be charging the US any fee barring the commercial costs of clearing and transporting the shipping containers. The PM also highlighted the importance of this decision in the light of the withdrawal of Nato and Isaf forces from Afghanistan and its ramifications on regional peace. However, there has been no apparent change in the Pak-US policy Vis-à-vis Afghanistan. Pakistan finds itself at risk with local Taliban (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) as well as attacks and incursions from Afghan militants across the border. How will the renewed ties improve the security situation along the border?
Much furore has also been created over the wordings of the apology issued by Secretary Clinton. The use of the word ‘sorry’ for the second time in the statement comes where the US secretary says: “We are both sorry for losses suffered by both our countries in this fight against terrorists,” where ‘both’ refers to herself and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. Some observers have been critical of Khar’s inclusion in the apology. How important, really, were the exact words of the statement? Will the apology go a long way in actually strengthening Pak-US ties? What will Pakistan gain from the mending of ways?
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