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

Washington

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.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before