Pakistan reopens Nato supply lines after Clinton's apology
Routes to Afghanistan can be used again after US statement on killing of 24 soldiers in air strike
Known for his commentary on international relations and US politics, Rupert Cornwell also contributes obituaries and occasionally even a column for the sports pages. With The Independent since its launch in 1986, he was the paper's first Moscow correspondent - covering the collapse of the Soviet Union – during which time he won two British Press Awards. Previously a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, he has also been a diplomatic correspondent, leader writer and columnist, and has served as Washington bureau editor. In 1983 he published God's Banker, about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.
Wednesday 04 July 2012
The desperately strained ties between Pakistan and the US eased yesterday as the Islamabad government agreed to re-open a critical Nato supply line to Afghanistan after Washington apologized for killing 24 of its soldiers in an airstrike last November near the Afghan border.
The deal was finalised in a phone call from Hillary Clinton to her Pakistani opposite number Hina Rabbani Khar, in which the Secretary of State expressed her regret at the incident. "We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military," Ms Clinton said in a statement on the conversation in which, she added, the two acknowledged "mistakes" that resulted in the loss of life.
Pakistan closed the supply line in retaliation for the botched airstrike, forcing the US to use a longer northern route running through Central Asia, costing an extra $100m a month. The first trucks are expected to use the re-opened route today (ed: Wednesday), but Pentagon officials said it would be days at least before shipments returned to former levels.
With the US committed to withdrawing all combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, its ability to use the Pakistan transit route had become essential. But the agreement did not come easily for either side, each deeply suspicious of the other and obliged to take account of domestic political pressures.
The White House initially resisted anything smacking of an apology, fearful of playing into Republican charges that President Obama was failing to defend American interests, just as the 2012 election campaign moved towards its climax.
More fundamentally, many policymakers in Washington, pointing to the ties between elements of the Pakistani intelligence services and the Taliban, wonder aloud whether the country is to be counted a US ally at all.
Those doubts only intensified with the May 2011 US commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and the discovery that the al-Q'aida leader had been living for years in the hillstation town of Abbottabad, just two hours drive from Islamabad.
For Pakistan the same considerations apply, but in reverse. With anti-Americanism running high, the Islamabad governmment could not do anything that could be construed as a concession to the US – especially after the bin Laden operation, seen as a humiliating violation of the country's sovereignty. Even before that, public opinion was inflamed by the affair of Raymond Davis, the CIA private contractor who shot dead two men in Lahore, only to be released after the payment of $2.4m of 'blood money' by the US government.
- 1 Sainsbury's '50p challenge' poster telling staff to encourage customers to spend more placed in shop window instead of staff room
- 2 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 4 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 5 Teenagers irritable because early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- < Previous
- Next >
£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Are you looking for part time/ ...
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...
£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Currently looking for teachers ...
£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...