Delayed response: US to apologise over NATO air raid – finally

Published: March 20, 2012
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“The US step may be symbolic but the government needs [an apology] to save its face, so it can get on with business as usual,” the official told The Express Tribune. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

“The US step may be symbolic but the government needs [an apology] to save its face, so it can get on with business as usual,” the official told The Express Tribune. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

After months of diplomatic squabbling over a deadly cross-border air raid by Nato troops on Pakistani posts, the United States now plans to offer a formal public apology to Islamabad, officials said on Monday.

Until now Washington was reluctant to apologise over the November 26, 2011 air strike on Pakistani border posts in the Salala area of Mohmand Agency that killed two dozen troops. It has ‘regretted’ the incident, though.

“The apology may come from the highest level and will be offered during or soon after the joint session of Parliament, which is scheduled to open a debate today on new terms of engagement (with the US),” a senior leader in the PPP-led ruling coalition told The Express Tribune.

The senior leader attended recent consultations between the country’s civilian and military leadership to finalise a strategy for the much-anticipated session of Parliament.

He said that the US has conveyed to Pakistan’s government that it was willing to offer a formal apology over the Nato air raid. “And it will come from the highest level,” he added.

Another official said that the government considered a formal US apology important for pacifying growing anger within the rank and file of the army in particular and the public in general.

“The US step may be symbolic but the government needs [an apology] to save its face, so it can get on with business as usual,” the official told The Express Tribune.

He said the administration of President Barack Obama appears to have now understood Pakistan’s position and accepted the fact that “gone are the days when they only dealt with certain individuals”.

Last month, The New York Times reported that the US planned to move past the deadly air strike in Pakistan and reboot diplomatic relations, but the plan was stymied by riots in Afghanistan set off by the burning of copies of the holy Quran at a Nato base.

Under a carefully coordinated plan, the military had planned for Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E Dempsey to make a formal apology via telephone to Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

But the move was apparently delayed at the request of the Pakistani government, which wanted the American apology to coincide with the joint sitting of Parliament.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Tahir
    Mar 20, 2012 - 5:43AM

    What they did was murder, it was no accident. Punish those involved as only justice can serve as an apology.

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  • blithe
    Mar 20, 2012 - 5:44AM

    Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E Dempsey to make a formal apology via telephone to Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani?????

    Is that a joke?
    The apology should be from Obama to the people of pakistan and it should be televised.

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  • Sachal Sarmast
    Mar 20, 2012 - 5:54AM

    The apology will go a long way in helping US to get out of ‘Afghan quagmire’ and in shaping international relations on new lines. Pakistan also must grab the opportunity to facilitate the process of stability in Afghanistan, for stability in Afghanistan is crucial for Pakistan than even for Afghanistan.
    Globalization of KRID and opportunities to be offered by region are immense and irresistible. We have let generations to die in hunger and humiliation, no more of it further. Lip service to religion and Pakistan have deprived millions of their dignity and right to live as human being.

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 20, 2012 - 5:55AM

    So the nations leaders have decided to ignore the dying wishes of the soldiers and their families who on a cold dark night on a hill within the Salala area, saw perfidy and murder take place, for which an apology will do???? Was it not the Americans who stated that they have alternative route and don’t care about Pakistan and gave warning of consequences. Now the people of Pakistan need to stand up and be counted. For them the words of Dr. John McCrea’s poem “Flanders Field” written in the spring of 1915 should raise their hopes and hearts for those who died..

    Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.Recommend

  • Malik
    Mar 20, 2012 - 6:08AM

    what difference it would make ….??? US is the beneficiary here and this official apology they will get them all the access to nato supply route …. and we will suck the apology like a lolly pop and feel proud …. I dont know when are we going to learn …

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  • Ravish
    Mar 20, 2012 - 6:17AM

    ROFL, How easy it is for Pakistan to forget its 24 soldiers who were killed that day. What a shame.

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  • OG
    Mar 20, 2012 - 6:29AM

    a little too late don’t you think? Apology is an apology and doesn’t matter when it comes, but it does help when its right after the incident or not too long after it unlike in this case where I think people won’t really accept this apology (the govt will no doubt) but i don’t think the regular pakistan would truly accept this apology

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  • moona
    Mar 20, 2012 - 7:24AM

    Apology rejected , Apology after 6 month of 24 cold blooded murders is more of an insult.
    Pack your bags n go back US

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  • Mar 20, 2012 - 7:44AM

    Pretty good comment. Yes, they must unequivocally punish those responsible for wanton murder without any delay. Salams to Pakistan

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  • shazada zahid mahmoud malik loan
    Mar 20, 2012 - 8:32AM

    It is still not an apology but only a “we will not do or will not happen again” and then why to Ashfaq Kiyani – he does not represent the people of Pakistan, he is only the servant. I am not convinced by this. We need compensations for the victims, in par with what they would have given to their own people, and a public apology to the Pakistani people.

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  • patriot
    Mar 20, 2012 - 8:33AM

    “But the move was apparently delayed at the request of the Pakistani government, which wanted the American apology to coincide with the joint sitting of Parliament.”

    This shows that our government has been lying to the people all along.

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  • anwar
    Mar 20, 2012 - 8:37AM

    unacceptable! The US stands exposed as a “People with no principles”. And One does not deal with hypocrites [lesson no 1 of Quran]

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  • MarkH
    Mar 20, 2012 - 8:38AM

    I’ve never understood why people demand apologies. If you have to ride them about it and they do it, it’s just to shut you up. Not because they mean it.

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  • Thoughtful
    Mar 20, 2012 - 9:11AM

    An apology from President Obama to the Pakistan govt will be the end of his reelection campaign. Although America needs the transit rout, the people of America do not trust or like Pakistan. Apologising for a transit route will be seen as an insult.

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  • Mar 20, 2012 - 10:04AM

    No America we dont accept ur apology

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  • KiJ
    Mar 20, 2012 - 10:57AM

    @ Thoughtful:

    The sentiment is likewise… no one trusts America, and that’s a ground reality!

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  • zehra
    Mar 20, 2012 - 11:13AM

    will believe it when see it

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  • Chodhary
    Mar 20, 2012 - 11:23AM

    We don’t need their bogus apology after all.. Pak should demand that the involved US commander who ordered the air strike should be put on trial and sentenced according to the international law for murdering our soldiers intentionally, otherwise NATO supplies MUST remain stopped.

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  • Shyam
    Mar 20, 2012 - 11:25AM

    “The apology may come from the highest level and will be offered during or soon after the joint session of Parliament, which is scheduled to open a debate today on new terms of engagement (with the US),” a senior leader in the PPP-led ruling coalition told The Express Tribune

    The Pakistani politicians keep saying lots of things. They even said Osama was not in Pakistan and that Kasab was not a Pakistani. Not much credibility to bank on

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  • Ozymandias
    Mar 20, 2012 - 12:41PM

    @MarkH:
    No one ever means it. That’s diplomacy.

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  • Parvez
    Mar 20, 2012 - 1:07PM

    ……so the apology is subject to the outcome of the Parliament debate……..is that an apology worth accepting.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 20, 2012 - 1:55PM

    After your Parliament gets through bashing America I doubt you will get the time of day – let alone an apology.

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  • Madih
    Mar 20, 2012 - 2:20PM

    A tit for tat is the only way forward. let us kill 24 Americans or Nato soldiers. this is what our religion says in matters concerning murder. no other way is possible but oh our so called patriotic leaders(ARMY and PARLIAMENT) have already finalized the deal. Shame

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  • common pakistani
    Mar 20, 2012 - 2:41PM

    Apology delayed is apology unaccepted. Its not justice anyway.

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  • Mar 20, 2012 - 2:53PM

    apology my foot, give those involved in unprovoked attack to us and we will deal with them accorsing to law of land…. no apology acceptable

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  • Arindom
    Mar 20, 2012 - 3:08PM

    begging for apology?

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  • Ammad
    Mar 20, 2012 - 4:36PM

    Yeah great, that’s how steadfast you should be when it comes to the national dignity and honour . Good strong behaviour by our pride PAK ARMY.

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  • Tony C.
    Mar 20, 2012 - 5:46PM

    The raid was carried out with typical U.S./NATO arrogance, and General Mathis from Cent Com did his best to back slide out of the quagmire, they had deliberately created, with obfuscation and unbelievable rhetoric, which the Pakistan military and Government did not buy. Now, with the price of supplies into Afghanistan increasing at an incredible rate a senior general will apologize. However, words are cheap. Does this mean that the U.S. will stop killing innocent Pakistani citizens, and start providing compensation for the several thousand that have been killed, severely wounded or incapacitated?

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  • Abdul Rahman Khan
    Mar 20, 2012 - 6:19PM

    Not only the apology should come from barrak obama but he should also announce adequate compensation for the survivors of the dead soldiers. Their blood should not go in waste.

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  • KJK
    Mar 20, 2012 - 8:33PM

    The apology should come from obama, general dampsey really doesnt matter. Kill pakistanis and get away by putting up a front man to say sorry. Obama is the leader of that nation and he is responsible for it and he should apolagise. Rest dampseys, rampseys or mamseys are irrelevant.Recommend

  • Truth
    Mar 30, 2012 - 11:11AM

    When you learn how to live like a dog, any bone that is thrown at you is a fair deal. Pakistanis are paying for electing crooks

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Mar 30, 2012 - 11:56AM

    Never trust untrustworthy and incredible US’ leaders’ this hypocritical,embellished and fabricated statement of “apology over Salala check post”.

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