The United States planned to move past the deadly airstrike in Pakistan, and re-boot diplomatic relations, but the plan was stymied this week by riots in Afghanistan set off after copies of the Holy Quran were burned at a Nato base on Monday night, the New York Times reported.
Pakistan-US relations plunged to a new low following the November 2011 airstrike on Pakistani border posts in the Salala area of Mohmand Agency that killed two dozen Pakistani border guards. The US refusal to aplogise over the deadly attack further infuriated Pakistanis and threatened their decade-long partnership in the war against terror.
Under a carefully coordinated plan, the military had planned for General Martin E Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to make a formal apology via telephone to Pakistan’s Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, on Thursday, NYT reported quoting a Defence Department official.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also to have amplified on that apology in her meeting with her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, the official added.
But the plan was upset by the explosion of violent rioting in Afghanistan.
Obama administration officials quickly calculated that too many regrets at once would hand fresh ammunition to Republican presidential candidates, the official added.
A senior Pakistani official said his government also wanted the American apology to be delayed until at least mid-March, when the Pakistani Parliament is due to hold a special sitting to debate the country’s policy toward America.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2012.