Clinton Apology To Pakistan Reopens Border Supply Route
The United States and Pakistan temporarily patched up the crisis in their relations whose immediate cause was mistaken attack by US helicopters on Pakistani border positions on November 26. The American position was that, in the worst case, it was a misunderstanding, but in reality the Pakistanis brought the attack on themselves by firing on American troops.
Now, belatedly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that the United States is "sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military."
The American position was reflected in the statement that the US was working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent a recurrence of such a tragedy implying that Pakistan shared some of the onus. Pakistan responded by reopening the supply and the eventual withdrawal route from Pakistan into Afghanistan.
Pakistan backed down from its demand of a toll of $5000 per truck. The US will resume military assistance worth about $1.1 billion to Pakistan and this sounds more palatable than the levy on NATO vehicles.Both sides gain and lose from the agreement. NATO and this means primarily the Americans will save $100 million a month over using the alternative route into Afghanistan through Central Asia.
Pakistan will benefit from resumed military assistance and the more modest but still meaningful $250 price per truck of supplies. Additionally the supply route to Afghanistan itself is a major boost to the Pakistani economy. No less than 10,000 local drivers plied the route and they were idled when the route was closed.
Pakistan did not explain the reversal of policy as motivated by economic need but primarily as a response to the sought for and received apology. Additionally the agreement is seen as a gateway to an enhanced Pakistani influence in postwar Afghanistan and as a gesture to the other NATO nations involved in Afghanistan who had no role whatsoever in the incident but were suffering as a result.
The deal will now be tested by public opinion in both countries. Pakistan is regarded with suspicion in the United States as the country that shielded Bin Laden while public opinion surveys in Pakistan show the United States in an extremely negative light.