US apology needed to open Nato supply routes: Khar

Published: June 5, 2012
A US apolog­y is someth­ing which should have been forthc­oming the day this incide­nt happen­ed, says Khar. PHOTO: AFP

A US apolog­y is someth­ing which should have been forthc­oming the day this incide­nt happen­ed, says Khar. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States should apologize for an air raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers if it wants Pakistan to reopen key supply routes into Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in an interview published Monday.

Angered over the lethal November attack, Islamabad shut the supply routes vital for US and allied troops, forcing the alliance to rely on longer, more expensive northern routes through Russia and Central Asia.

“A representative parliament of 180 million people has spoken on one subject,” Khar told Foreign Policy, referring to new guidelines for US-Pakistan ties approved by Pakistani lawmakers which call for an apology.

A US apology is “something which should have been forthcoming the day this incident happened, and what a partnership not only demands, but requires,” she said.

The on-again, off-again relationship between Islamabad and Washington is at a new low, and with US elections looming in November, President Barack Obama is unlikely to say sorry to Pakistan and make himself vulnerable to attacks from his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

A Nato summit in Chicago ended two weeks ago without a deal on the Nato supply lines.

Khar however said that despite the political challenges, the United States should live up to its principles of doing “what we consider to be right rather than what is more popular.”

She noted that Pakistan also has political obstacles of its own.

“For us in Pakistan… the most popular thing to do right now is to not move on Nato supply routes at all. It is to close them forever,” she said.

“If I were a political advisor to the prime minister, this is what I would advise him to do. But I’m not advising him to do that… because what is at stake is much more important for Pakistan than just winning an election.”

The roads through Pakistan, now shuttered for over six months, are a crucial logistical link for Nato as it plans a large-scale withdrawal of combat troops and hardware by the end of 2014.

Yet US officials have so far rejected Pakistani proposals to charge steep fees of several thousand dollars for each alliance truck crossing the border.

Khar also criticized Washington’s use of unmanned drones to target militants in Pakistan’s lawless tribal area, a program Obama has accelerated.

“If you are creating 10 more targets for every target you take, are you doing a service or a disservice to your eventual goal of winning the war?” she asked.

Another thorn in the side of the contentious US-Pakistani relationship has been Shakeel Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by running a fake vaccination program, and who was sentenced to 33 years in prison for treason.

“Clearly, my advice at this point is that we don’t need to blow this out of proportion at all,” Khar said. “But I would certainly not want this particular issue to cast a shadow over the relationship.”

The interview was conducted in Doha during the May 29-31 US-Islamic World Forum organized by The Brookings Institution.

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Reader Comments (44)

  • Cautious
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:00AM

    Is this the same FM that came back from Chicago and said the meeting went “very very well” – if so it’s hard to take anything she says seriously.


  • Ahmer Ali
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:01AM

    Mrs. Hina Rabbani Khar in other words or indirectly you are renewing the convicted ex-PM Gillani’s shameful and awful statement in which he said that by US’ apology shall the martyred soldiers be lived?
    And as far as your this stance is concerned “A representative parliament of 180 million people has spoken on one subject,” the please keep it in your minds firmly and strongly that 180 million people have rejected the restoration of NATO’s supply routes thru different surveys and the leaders know it very well so never use the nation’s shoulders to fire your personal bullets on USA.


  • Mirza
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:15AM

    Looks like Pakistan got the NATO message about Northern route, loud and clear. It is about time to take a U turn. The bluff did not pay off. Let us get real and do the right thing after we have tried every thing else.


  • John B
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:15AM

    I think it is old news. The matter has progressed to negotiation on the money and not on drones and apology.


  • AAM Shehri
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:15AM

    US apology = TOO LITTLE TOO LATE


  • Jat
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:56AM

    Just a few days earlier you said “we should move on” while talking about the Salala incident. Now you are again requesting an apology ? Make up your mind for God’s sake !!


  • Pungi
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:11AM

    If alternate route was so feasible for NATO they would have switched to that long ago but they didn’t and are begging Pakistan to open NATO supply routes…If they want favour they must do a favour as well.. Apology is inevitable!


  • A.Khan
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:21AM

    Bang, we are with you on this.


  • Shariq
    Jun 5, 2012 - 12:03PM

    Why are we asking an apology from US alone when the NATO carried out the attack? shouldn’t the apology come from NATO and all countries in it?


  • Acorn Guts
    Jun 5, 2012 - 1:34PM

    If we ever do get the apology, mark my words, it’ll come at a time when it’ll give the maximum political benefit to PPP election campaign. Go figure.


  • Jat
    Jun 5, 2012 - 1:47PM

    @Shariq: Exactly !! Either an apology from all of NATO or in lieu of that $ 5000 per container per each NATO country. That should provide a neat $ 20,000 per container.


  • Abdul
    Jun 5, 2012 - 1:47PM

    NATO selection of Northern Route is their progative/problem (surely, it won’t be free anyway). Pakistan demand off an Appology is a different matter n as an ally of NATO or USA if one is on fault should accept it’s mistake n submit an apology, going around2 for any reason is waste of time n weaking ones friendship or partnership. For Pakistan to chagre fee/charges for utilizing it’s roads, services etc are very much inline with International Standard, above all Pakistan is not a rich country to cover repair or rebuild these roads again, so users must pay.


  • Nas
    Jun 5, 2012 - 2:17PM

    What about a Pakistani apology for exporting terrorism around the world , giving away free villas , selling nuclear secrets for profit and some of the worst human rights abuses in the world …..hmmm don’t talk the talk unless you walk the walk!


  • a rehman
    Jun 5, 2012 - 2:31PM

    US must be cursing its decision of attacking the salala air base. US thought that they would walk away without any hurdle after teaching a lesson to Pakistan and did not expect this solid repercussion and a stand from a developing country like Pakistan.


  • Zalim Singh
    Jun 5, 2012 - 2:39PM

    and money too.


  • Polpot
    Jun 5, 2012 - 2:39PM

    It is time to also ask for apologies for the public humiliation met out to Pakistan at the Chicago meet.


  • messed
    Jun 5, 2012 - 2:48PM

    @Mirza: Where is U turn?


  • Polpot
    Jun 5, 2012 - 2:52PM

    ““If I were a political advisor to the prime minister, this is what I would advise him to do. But I’m not advising him to do that… because what is at stake is much more important for Pakistan than just winning an election.””
    Is it impolite to request Ms Khar to read an article in this newspaper?
    Its titled: Need to Think Before Speaking!


  • OG
    Jun 5, 2012 - 2:56PM


    Because USA is NATO! without USA there is no NATO! just like without the USSR there is no Warsaw pact.


  • Hedgefunder
    Jun 5, 2012 - 3:41PM

    Face the Facts FM !! There is going to be No Apology, so why keep bantering on about it?
    Just look at the state of affairs in Pakistan and without AID & Loans, Its going to be rather difficult to survive for long on the current course.
    Time to put your Ghairat aside and start talking about the charges for supply route to be opened, as you certainly need that money !


  • Liberal
    Jun 5, 2012 - 4:27PM

    FM has gone mad. We cannot fight with the US and should open the NATO route as early as possible which we should not have shut down in the first place. Pakistan is a great country ans we can only remain great if we keep assisting the NATO and allied forces which has given so many sacrifices for a free world. The incident at Salala was unfortunate but soldiers are meant to die for the dignity of their country. A lot more of our beloved soldiers had been killed in the suicide attack by terrorists so we should first cut the supply-line of terrorists rather than that of NATCO which is doing a great job for the whole humanity.


  • Saqibtahir
    Jun 5, 2012 - 4:38PM

    Is Pakistan going to block Taliban supplies and seek apology from them for their yesterday’s attack on the same check post?


  • Thoughtful
    Jun 5, 2012 - 4:40PM

    Well there should be respect for the representatives of 300 million people viz thhe US Congress which believes coalition suppost funds should be contingent on support to the coalition.


  • Rao
    Jun 5, 2012 - 5:06PM

    Fo God sack stop this RAAG, the US will never say sorry.
    You are not matching with her.
    And do not make fun with this nation.
    Just stop it.


  • Sajjad Ashraf
    Jun 5, 2012 - 5:29PM

    This seems like the voice of the people of Pakistan.


  • Aftab
    Jun 5, 2012 - 5:42PM

    Get rid of this incompetent government and bring about real change by voting for Imran Khan


  • Jadugar
    Jun 5, 2012 - 5:57PM

    Term Apology is being used only to drag the issue, The present Govt. and the establishment are well aware of the consequences they may have to face especially in the election year in Pakistan. The Govt. can neither get an apology nor can it stop the drones strikes, leave alone dealing with the Mullahs threat, the govt. knows the Mullahs have the power to bring the country to a standstill and an excuse the Mullah are wishing for.


  • LionOfPunjab
    Jun 5, 2012 - 6:26PM

    Please, Please apologize, pretty please?. Please, sir, we demand that you apologize, please?
    It hurts so much to see that every other day we are begging for an apology or registering a final “strong protest” against drone strilkes. I can imagine amreekan grinning!


  • Masood
    Jun 5, 2012 - 6:30PM

    The news and events are starting to ringing bells for Pakistan. I wish Pakistani establishment have some backup plans of loosing the USA partnership all together. The worse will be coming soon with more sanctions, isolation and propaganda. Post 2014 it is already evident that India will be in lead role and serve Afghan National Guard training with dozens and dozens of consulates to haunt Pakistan already fragile areas like Baluchistan and Tribal regions.


  • Raj - USA
    Jun 5, 2012 - 6:34PM

    The Army with the support of Judiciary wants to show that they are the only ones who are patriotic and principled. Ruling civilian government wants to pin down the Army in its own game and wants the Army to come out clearly in support of opening the NATO supply routes. US is not going to apologize. Army is in no position to take over the country and they could not overthrow the government even with the support of judiciary. Their many attempts, such as, Memo Gate, OBL commission and disqualifying PM failed. Now we see the dual citizenship issue. PPP is starving the Army with funds to make them come out with the request to open the supply routes. Army is confused and is trying to boost its image with missile tests which is the same old tactic form Musharraf’s time.


  • Ajamal
    Jun 5, 2012 - 6:36PM

    Apology only!! What about “drone attacks”??


  • Hafeez
    Jun 5, 2012 - 6:59PM

    Hey Forign Minister! please stop Sometimes you say you need apology and other times you demand higher price per trailer. What is wrong with you guys? Isn’t there anybody in foreign ministry who believes in some homework before spitting out non-sense. Recommend

  • major-ji
    Jun 5, 2012 - 7:17PM

    @Raj – USA:
    How true your analysis is. But who will be the winner at the end?


  • Raj - USA
    Jun 5, 2012 - 9:22PM

    Though it may look different on the surface, I feel that PPP is relying on the Quamis and Army is relying on the Quom. Meanwhile, Awam will have to ride through rough times. Awam is counting on the elections and seeing it coming closer and closer each day. But the reality may be that they are moving further and further away. There is many a slip between the cup and the lip. If sufficient funds have been allocated in the recent Budget for holding the elections, there is a good chance that elections will be held in time and Awam may be the winner at the end of the day. I have not studied the Budget and do not know the answer.


  • Away
    Jun 5, 2012 - 9:45PM


    Are you the same guy who wanted to confirm the news of Pakistan being invited to Chicago conference without opening the routes?


  • A.S.Ahamed Farooq
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:11PM

    The Foreign Minister of Pakistan,Mrs Hani Rabbani Khar merits commendation for her demand from USA for unconditional apology for the murder of 24 Pakistani soldiers.Americans committed this cold blooded murder for which they should have been tried for crimes against humanity.Rather than resorting to that Pakistan demanded only an apology for the crimes committed.Instead of humanely and graciously considering the matter and magnanimously offering an apology.Barck Obama arrogantly and haughtily refused to apologize and thereby added salt to the wound and dented the national pride.Pakistan had no option but to retaliate by closing the NATO supply routes running through Pakistan to Afghanistan.Pakistan should stand firm.US may be a Superpower but it matters little or nothing when it comes to Pakistan’s National honour.The NATO supply routes should remain closed as declared by Hani Rabbani Khar .Pakistan should not cave in to American pressure.The rights and honour of Pakistan must be respected by America.


  • Devin Leonard
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:58AM

    This lady is full of it. Obama and the US is NEVERgoing to apologize for an incident that was a result of the icompetence of the Pakistanis, not the US military. And we won’t be blackmailed into paying massive prices to re-open the southern route. Pakistan can either open the route or forget the aid money they get from us…pure and simple. As for the drone strikes they will continue, whether princess here likes it or not:)


  • Dr V. C. Bhutani
    Jun 6, 2012 - 3:03AM

    So, that’s the bottom line. A US apology for Salala is essential. Without that the supply routes to Afghanistan through Pakistan shall not reopen.
    Nato has signed agreements with northern countries to withdraw Isaf troops and hardware via those countries.
    From now on, therefore, Pakistan and US do not need each other. Is that an end of an affair that began in the 1950s?
    V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 6 Jun 2012, 0333 IST


  • Aftab
    Jun 6, 2012 - 4:13AM

    @Devin Leonard:
    Not getting any aid is actually a blessing in disguise. I hope USA and all other countries stop providing Pakistan with aid regardless of this NATO supply routes issue. Vote for Imran Khan if you want to save Pakistan


  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    Jun 6, 2012 - 4:29AM

    Us demands an apology from Pakistan for death of all 9/11 victims as they were killed by Al Qaeda #1and 2 and all those relevant numbers.


  • Amjad
    Jun 6, 2012 - 7:42AM

    @Dr V. C. Bhutani: I don’t think that that NATO can afford to remove their goods through the Northern route which is so expensive, especially when European Union nations are having economic problems and some are going bankrupt. It would be best to mend fences and come to an understanding which is the interests of both NATO and Pakistan. They should agree to pay a fair price and rebuild Pakistani roads and infrastructure which were damaged the last decade. It is Musharraf who gave away Pakistan’s transit fees for nothing.


  • KM
    Jun 6, 2012 - 2:11PM

    For once, I agree with what Khar is saying.Recommend

  • dpd
    Jun 6, 2012 - 6:41PM

    Pakistan has only two years left for this income stream. The Government should have opened the route and negotiated for a better compensation. This would have increased the koffers of the state. But alas, NATO is now looking at other countries that will benefit.


  • Jun 7, 2012 - 9:43AM

    tell your general to say yes first.


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