Stillborn apology: Pakistan, US fail to break logjam

Published: April 25, 2012

Officials say Washington is reluctant to tender a public apology over the death of two dozen Pakistani soldiers.

ISLAMABAD: 

Indefinitely delaying the much-anticipated reengagement process between the two allies, Pakistan and the US have ended up in a deadlock over the issue of a public apology for last year’s deadly Nato airstrike.

The formal apology is one of the key preconditions set by Pakistan’s parliament to revive cooperation with the US and reopen Nato supply routes blocked since the airstrike at Salala which killed two dozen Pakistan Army soldiers.

However, Pakistani officials have now disclosed that Washington is reluctant to accept the demand.

The apparent hesitation on part of the Obama administration to tender a public apology over the incident has led to a stalemate, said a Pakistani diplomat, familiar with the development.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the diplomat added that Washington had earlier displayed signs of ‘willingness’ to apologise but President Barrack Obama’s public ratings, in an election year, appear to have forced the administration to rethink its decision.

The recent attacks in Kabul, blamed on the Haqqani network, have also complicated the situation and made it difficult for Obama to take such a step at a time when his political rivals are calling for a tough action against Pakistan.

In an attempt to find a midway, the White House was planning to send veteran Democrat Senator John Kerry to Pakistan but the visit was postponed after Islamabad apparently refused to accept his apology.

“Our position is that we want the White House to make the apology,” said another official.

He said the two sides were trying to break the impasse and the issue would come up for discussions during the upcoming visit of US special representative for the region Marc Grossman, who is expected to arrive here today (Wednesday) on a two-day trip.

Despite repeated attempts, foreign ministry spokesperson Moazam Ali Khan could not be reached for an official reaction over this development.

The US Embassy also refused to comment on the specifics.

“The US is ready to engage with Pakistan on all issues when it is ready for discussions,” said an American diplomat.

His remarks appear to suggest that Pakistan has not yet made up its mind to revive cooperation with the US in the light of the new recommendations approved by parliament.

Recently, US Ambassador Cameron Munter said his country was eager to resume cooperation with Pakistan but would not accept all of its demands.

Officials said the government had put on hold the process after US reservations surfaced on the issue of the formal apology.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2012.

Reader Comments (26)

  • Fauzan Naeem
    Apr 25, 2012 - 9:53AM

    If I’m not wrong I remember reading “US apologised for detaining Shahrukh Khan”
    And here we are waiting for months, for an apology that is worthless.
    you don’t need months to realize your mistake, and well as far as I think, US need not apologise because it was probably intentional on their part.

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  • gp65
    Apr 25, 2012 - 9:55AM

    There is an attempt by Pakistan government to save face by stating that Kerry was willing to apologize but the Pak government did not accept that. Also that Obama was willing to apologize but due to election pressures is now hesitant to do so.All this quoted by anonymous sources. All these explanations will be provided when Pakistan finally opens supply routes without having received any apology from US which the parliament stated was a pre-requisite.

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  • Sheda_Rambo
    Apr 25, 2012 - 9:57AM

    Clearly The Apology would Testify that the #US report of the incident is False and the whole investigation done by US is just Show off,
    However As election Year in Pakistan in approaching as well, Islamabad seems to tied at both ends ….

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  • Super Star
    Apr 25, 2012 - 10:02AM

    US is clear why it wont apologize.This was a case of collusion between the Pak army and its terror proteges who after an attack in Afghanistan was taking refuge in the Pak Army camp who were only too happy to provide them cover fire.US bombed the daylights out of them to teach them a lesson. BUt has the army learnt anything ? Dont think so. More Salala incidents will definitely happen in future

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  • Patriot
    Apr 25, 2012 - 10:45AM

    We should not even accept an apology now and close NATO supplies forever!

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  • Muhammad Abdul Rehman
    Apr 25, 2012 - 11:36AM

    Pakistan should boycott Chicago Conference if US does not offer public apology.
    It’s good to see that all stake holders from Pakistani side whether it’s GHQ camp or politicians are in kind of unity against US.
    Now we have hold so far, the supplies should not be reopen until our main precondition is accepted by them

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  • Apr 25, 2012 - 12:19PM

    Now it has come back to square one. US does not want to apologize publicly, on Salala incident. If Pakistan allows the resumption of Nato supplies than it is humiliating for the Parliament. US government knows very well that Pakistan’s economy cannot last for long and ultimately Pakistan will agree to opening of supply to Nato troops in Afghanistan. Corrupt leadership, vested interests and crumpling economy have left no option for Pakistan.Recommend

  • ashok sai
    Apr 25, 2012 - 12:28PM

    This attitude with high dose of ego will cause dear to Pakistan in terms of economy and welfare of the state.

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  • Questioner
    Apr 25, 2012 - 12:38PM

    SuperStar: Your analysis has no legs to stand on. Please provide references. Even the US report did not say that Pakistani forces provide them cover!.. Don’t be an advocate without evidence.

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  • Nasir
    Apr 25, 2012 - 12:41PM

    Has Pakistan ever apologised for exporting terrorism around the world and allowing ministers to attend rallies of banned outfits or showering murderers of foreign nationals with rose petals? – if not please shut up

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  • Sadhu
    Apr 25, 2012 - 12:52PM

    @Fauzan Naeem:
    Why do you hanker after a useless apology. Anyway, it was not a mistake. Not a mistake by the U.S.A. and definitely not by Pak. It was a game of smartness, Pak lost and suffered. Thats all. Do not cry like babies when hurt.

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  • Thoughtful
    Apr 25, 2012 - 12:56PM

    There is no way Prez Obama will survive an aplogy to Pakistan. Ffor starters that would be inconsisTyent with the US inquiry report which said both sides were at fault.Further the US public at large has rancour driven by Haquanis role in attacking our boys . Remember in 10 plus years of war how many soldiers have served in Afghanistan and have returned home to tell stories. In the new Sherlock Holmes TV series Watson has served in Afghanistan. Ms. Bigelow is shooting a movie on the OBL episode. In popular culture the Haqanis and by extension their handlers are baddies. No way can the Prez apologise.
    Please excuse the awful spelling

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  • O B Server
    Apr 25, 2012 - 1:00PM

    It is wishful thinking of Paks to expect USA apology. USA never intended to apologise to Pakistan, unlike Quran burning in Afghanistan when even Mr Obama was quick to apologise to the ‘noble’ people and Government of Afghanistan. The Pakistani military post was targeted and not an error, so no apology; especially since Paks cannot do anything about it or avenge it!

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  • Fauzan Naeem
    Apr 25, 2012 - 2:01PM

    @Sadhu:
    Wouldn’t take a genius to figure out what I said. If it was truly a mistake, the apology would have come straight away with good heart. Although, the incident seemed intentional, hence render an apology worthless.
    Go read my comment again before posting a reply.

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  • harish
    Apr 25, 2012 - 2:15PM

    what is wrong in killing terrorist supporters? why shud america apologise?

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  • Rizwan
    Apr 25, 2012 - 3:11PM

    According to US other then them ,all other countries are terrorist .Look at the track record of US going to war with half of the world .When US looses they blame the neighbors .Vietnam is one such example .

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  • Someone
    Apr 25, 2012 - 7:03PM

    @ET: You allowed harish and Super Star to post their comments yet censored my counter-comment. It is high time that you make your agenda clear and what point of views you pander to. You are becoming a mouth-piece for all species of liberals and anti-Pak brigades, your reputation as a newspaper catering to the “mainstream” Pakistani readers is fast going down the drain. If you continue to censor my comments, the only message I get is that I should leave this and switch over to Dawn instead. let’s see if you publish this comment, for a start.

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  • Cautious
    Apr 25, 2012 - 7:21PM

    Why should you get an unconditional apology — you fired first. Shooting at American’s then complaining is the height of hypocrisy – asking for an unconditional apology is ridiculous and no one outside of Pakistan thought it would ever happen. It’s time to come back to earth and get a grip on reality. This debacle is the result of mistakes made by most sides — but when was the last time Pakistan ever admitted it made a mistake? Recommend

  • Nawab
    Apr 25, 2012 - 7:31PM

    Marc Grossman is a useless dummy. He might as well not come to Pakistan, its not like he can achieve anything.

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  • antanu g
    Apr 25, 2012 - 7:51PM

    @Fauzan Naeem:
    these are two grossly different matters dear….see the things in perspective.

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  • G.A.
    Apr 25, 2012 - 7:58PM

    If americans had any sense of human values there would not have been such a long delay in apology, their public just looks like such a fool and coward that they can be derived any where by their leaders by horrifying them, by creating terror dramas and plots in front of them, to achieve the evil designs of them…..they can intrude, kill, and destroy anyone for their selfish ends through whatever means. A mere apology, that too after such a long time, cannot give us back those soldiers…..time to think and act over something substantial.

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  • j. von hettlingen
    Apr 25, 2012 - 8:19PM

    Why can’t Pakistan and the U.S. get over it? Both countries can reconciliate without pushing each other over the edge?

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  • DB
    Apr 25, 2012 - 8:32PM

    The death of the Salala shaheed has united Pakistan against the US. For that, we will always be grateful to them. Liberals of Pakistan of course will continue to bat for the US and India, further exposing their disconnect from rest of Pakistan.

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  • Babloo
    Apr 25, 2012 - 8:44PM

    No one cares in USA if Obama administration apologizes for bombing Pakistan at Salala. It would be not even be newsworthy here. So it seems that Obama administration is sending a signal that its have had enough of Pakistan’s duplicity by not apologizing so far and it has nothing to do with US domestic politics.

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  • ayesha_khan
    Apr 25, 2012 - 8:57PM

    @Babloo: “No one cares in USA if Obama administration apologizes for bombing Pakistan at Salala. It would be not even be newsworthy here.So it seems that Obama administration is sending a signal that its have had enough of Pakistan’s duplicity by not apologizing so far and it has nothing to do with US domestic politics”.

    True. They apologized for Shah Rukh Khan’s immigration delay readily. This is why Pakistan appears to be claiming through unattributable sources that the reason aplogy is not forthcoming is that they wanted it to come directly from White House and even an apology from Kerry was not good enough for them. How else can they justify reopening the supply routes which they clarly plan to do. Especially since US has also not agreed to stop drones.

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  • Babloo
    Apr 25, 2012 - 9:04PM

    US needs Pakistan for next 2 years , until they exit Afganistan. After that , they would have a more free hand to deal with Pakistan.
    Pakistan needs USA for foreseeable future for bailout money from WB, IMF , spare parts for crumbling planes etc.
    USA knows that.
    Does Pakistan knwo that ?

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