Thaw in icy US-Pakistan ties

ISLAMABAD’S decision to re-open key supply routes to NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, after the US apology over killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers, is a positive development and the two sides are now expected to work jointly to restore peace in the war-hit region.

The decision, announced by the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Tuesday after talks with her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, has ended a seven-month long row between the two countries. The US had been refusing to offer an apology for the deadly air strike on two Pakistani border posts in November 2011. Pakistan had been demanding a US apology over the incident and a hefty transit fee for the resumption of NATO supply routes.
However, realising the importance of their bilateral cooperation for the success in the war against terror, both sides have shown flexibility in their positions. “We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again,” Clinton said in her statement. She also confirmed that Pakistan would not charge transit fee for NATO supplies.
The supply route through Pakistan is crucial to the United States and other NATO countries as they prepare to pull all combat troops out of Afghanistan by 2014. Afghanistan has also welcomed the Pakistani decision as it prepares to take over the security role from international forces by June next year.
Soon after the announcment, Pakistani Taliban threatened to attack NATO convoys, underlining the security challenges faced by the Pakistani government and the military. However, the move is expected to benefit the country’s battered economy as the US would restore its crucial assistance.
It is also hoped that the improvement in US-Pakistan ties will ultimately result in more coordinated international efforts for peace in Afghanistan.


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