The reopening of the Pak-Afghan border for regular movement of Nato supplies, hinged on one simple thing: a public apology by the US for NATO’s unilateral attack on Salala checkpoint at the Pak-Afghan border.
But it took over half a year for the US to say sorry to Pakistan for the unfortunate incident which claimed the lives of 24 Pakistani soldiers. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton finally apologised and thus Pakistan has now restored the movement of Nato supplies across the border.
While the controversial news that the two strategic partners had agreed for some emergency Nato supplies to be secretly flown to Afghanistan recently sparked an uproar, Pakistan’s stance on the issue was quite principled. In fact, the country’s leaders have shown exemplary diplomatic skills. They retaliated by shutting down the Nato supply route and forced the evacuation of US personnel and aircrafts from the Shamsi Base in Balochistan. During the six months that followed the incident, American and Pakistani officials met several times, but little headway was made. Even at the Nato summit held in Chicago earlier this year, there was a clear impasse between the two allies. Pakistan, surprisingly, resolutely stuck to its guns. During a recent meeting with Pakistan’s Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), General Allen, reportedly offered a personal apology for the incident. But Pakistan’s military leader would have none of it — no apology, no supplies, he said.
After an agonisingly lomng wait, Hillary said the magic word that settled the issue: sorry.