A Belated Apology Reopens NATO’s Supply lines in Pakistan

An apology by Secretary of State Clinton ended the months’ long impasse between the U.S. in Pakistan over an air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and Pakistan’s retaliation by closing NATO’s Supply lines to Afghanistan that pass through the country. A cross border attack in November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, provoking considerable popular outrage among Pakistani citizens, and Pakistan has been demanding an apology for months.
Pakistan’s support for NATO operations in Afghanistan has always been unpopular with a large proportion of its citizens, especially since the deaths of the Pakistani troops. 84% of Pakistanis view America is an enemy, according to a new pew poll. The popular outcry and the unpopularity of support for America in general, explains the hard line that Pakistan took in closing the supply routes and in the subsequent negotiations.
When setting new “terms of engagement” with the United States in April, the Pakistani parliament demanded an “unconditional apology”. It’s obvious that Pakistan’s perpetually weak civilian government one to show how seriously they took the situation, and of course that was not unreasonable, since the deaths were a tragedy The Obama administration had previously expressed “regret” for the deaths, but it stopped just short of apologizing. Many lawmakers considered that apologizing for the incident would weaken the United States’ negotiating position with Pakistan about issues such as its support for the Haqqani network. Mitt Romney has also accused the president of apologizing too often in foreign policy situations.
However, given the importance of supply routes as NATO prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan, and the $100 million per month than that the U.S. will save by being able to take and supplies by a more direct route, it’s easy to see whether thought it worthwhile to apologize. It’s also interesting to note that Pakistan had also demanded that the United States pay a higher fee for each shipment of supplies sent through Pakistan, but after this latest deal was concluded, U.S. officials said that the financial arrangement would remain the same. Given what is at stake for Pakistan’s government, and why have they reopened the supply lines while getting so little in return?
Possibly Pakistan is satisfied with Secretary Of State Clinton’s apology, but there are more reasons to renewing the alliance attractive to Pakistan. Pakistan earns $250 for each truck that passes through its territory, and import and revenue stream for the economically challenged country. This agreement will also free up the $1.3 billion owed to Pakistan that the U.S. froze when the disagreement started, U.S. officials also said that the U.S. will undertake a road reconstruction projects Pakistan as part of the new deal.
Today’s apology provides a face saving means for both the U.S. and Pakistan to restart a partnership that provides benefits for them both.