Panetta all but rules out apology for Pakistan

Published: June 22, 2012
Panetta says past expressions of regret, condolences were enough. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Panetta says past expressions of regret, condolences were enough. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta all but ruled out an apology over an air strike last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and badly set back efforts to improve US-Pakistani ties, saying it was “time to move on.”

Pakistan banned trucks from carrying Nato supplies into neighboring Afghanistan after the air strike, a move that costs US taxpayers $100 million a month given the need to use more expensive, longer routes to the north.

To re-open the routes, Pakistan wants to impose high tariffs on Nato supplies and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said last week that Islamabad is still seeking an unconditional apology.

But Panetta, in an interview with Reuters on Thursday, suggested that past expressions of regret and condolences were enough and held out hope that troubled talks on re-opening Pakistani supply routes for the Nato war effort could succeed anyway.

Asked whether he would oppose any further apology, Panetta said: “We’ve made clear what our position is, and I think it’s time to move on.”

“If we keep going back to the past, if we keep beating up each other based on past differences, we’ll never get anywhere,” he said.

“The time now is to move forward with this relationship, on the (supply routes), on the safe havens, on dealing with terrorism — on dealing with the issues that frankly both of us are concerned about,” Panetta said.

But the supply line negotiations have become wrapped in a larger debate within Pakistan about what it sees as US violations of its sovereignty, which includes everything from covert CIA drone strikes to the US incursion into Pakistan last year to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Meanwhile, US frustration about Pakistani safe havens being used by militants attacking Nato forces in Afghanistan has become more pronounced as the US military starts winding down the war effort in Afghanistan.

During a trip to Kabul, Panetta, using unusually harsh language, said the United States was reaching the limits of its patience with Pakistan because of the safe havens it offered to insurgents fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.

But in his interview with Reuters, he appeared to temper those remarks, saying: “It’s a complicated and frustrating relationship. But it’s a necessary relationship and one that we’ve got to continue to work at on both sides.”

At the same time, Panetta acknowledged pressures building in Congress to put conditions on aid to Pakistan.

“It’s not something that we’re pushing in the Congress. But the reality is that the more problems we have, the more difficult it’s going to be in the Congress to continue to provide assistance without conditions,” Panetta said.

He also acknowledged the likelihood that a protracted cut-off of the supply routes, costing Americans millions of dollars a day, would ultimately impact aid to Pakistan as well.

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Reader Comments (42)

  • sajid
    Jun 22, 2012 - 10:18AM

    Say Sorry and bend on kneeess.
    come on
    .Say Sorry:)))Recommend

  • Aquarian Truths
    Jun 22, 2012 - 10:21AM

    Does this have any resonance in Pakistan? Clearly Americans are telling them, stop these crocodile tears and get their job done, nor there will be no free dollars.


  • Basit
    Jun 22, 2012 - 10:22AM

    No resumption of NATO supply. Time to “move on” out of Afghanistan Panettta!


  • RizwanTKhan
    Jun 22, 2012 - 10:23AM

    Then forget NATO supply. You can apologize to Afghanistan but not us?


  • Umair
    Jun 22, 2012 - 10:31AM

    Ok, Mr. Panetta forget NATO routes and move on :)


  • Blithe
    Jun 22, 2012 - 10:39AM

    Zero diplomatic skills .
    Where did this guy go to school???
    Seems such a provincial mindset…
    The other day he was making anti Pakistan
    comments from India, while conveniently ignoring Kashmir.

    Pakistan should not be threatened by such
    uncouth and illogical people .


  • Ali
    Jun 22, 2012 - 10:43AM

    No one remains a super power for ever. You guys will be saying sorry to a lot of countries in the future. Why not start with Pakistan? ;)


  • concerned citizen
    Jun 22, 2012 - 10:43AM

    obama clearly doesn’t want a bad repute for the upcoming elections, therefore, they’re not going to change their stance and apologize :P


  • Mujhay hay hukm-e Azaan....
    Jun 22, 2012 - 10:50AM

    Many thanks Mr. Panetta……

    if there is no sorry for drone attacks there should be no sorry for salala attack also


  • Javed
    Jun 22, 2012 - 11:03AM

    We let you “move on” with Raymond Davis, Panetta. You can’t make it a habit.


  • Hassan
    Jun 22, 2012 - 11:14AM

    Asked whether he would oppose any further apology, Panetta said: “We’ve made clear what our position is, and I think it’s time to move on.”

    THANKS. Pakistan has made its position clear. Lets move on. You carry on with your northern supply lines and don’t as Pakistan for any more supply routes.


  • Usman
    Jun 22, 2012 - 11:22AM

    No supply routes, no toxic aid, it’s a win-win for Pakistan. We’re not the one on a timeline :)Recommend

  • EyeRoll!
    Jun 22, 2012 - 11:27AM

    sure dont say sorry, than why are you still grovelling and talking about us?? Ask your bestfriend to help you send supplies to Afghanistan or keep using the northern routes. We pakistanis are not missing out on anything!!!


  • THE
    Jun 22, 2012 - 11:30AM

    All of the Pakistani population would tell you that they want the so called ‘Aid’ from the US stopped since it doesn’t benifit them at all. It helps the politicians and the generals. Maybe it’s time to “MOVE OUT” of this region Mr. Panetta.


  • JA
    Jun 22, 2012 - 11:35AM

    Americans are in general an arrogant nation.


  • Maz3tt
    Jun 22, 2012 - 11:36AM

    time to move on. no NATO supplies.


  • verbal buckshot
    Jun 22, 2012 - 11:45AM

    Pakistan has bigger things on its plate than making America say sorry. America might want to start worrying about an increasingly irritated Russia.


  • Omer
    Jun 22, 2012 - 12:08PM

    “Its time to move on”. Seriously!!!! Tell that to the families of those soldiers. Maybe you should move on from the nato supply route!


  • Ako
    Jun 22, 2012 - 12:16PM

    Is this stance, a Pakistani stance or a stance by army to save its face from the humiliation it faced when they (US) came all over to Abbotabad and army was busy managing the housing schemes? more army soldiers have being killed by Taliban and likes but no one actually tries to nab their mentors, rather they are given state protection.


  • Hedgefunder
    Jun 22, 2012 - 12:26PM

    We’re not the one on a timeline :)

    No you have passed that stage already, in fact Pakistan has well passed its sell by date too !!
    Let us see you survive without Aid, that would be a start !


  • faraz
    Jun 22, 2012 - 12:38PM

    US should also stop buying our exports; we dont need any dollars


  • indian
    Jun 22, 2012 - 12:41PM

    those 24 soldiers were helping terrorists pass through, why should america apologies?? why not pakistan for their terrorist loving nature?


  • Pakistani
    Jun 22, 2012 - 12:54PM

    OOPS……Pakistan all but rules out opening of supply routes…


  • Pinto
    Jun 22, 2012 - 1:29PM

    Right decision mr.panetta,appology for what? Killing terrorist


  • Butt
    Jun 22, 2012 - 1:42PM

    Pakistan’s F16s just became junk aircrafts.


  • Donku
    Jun 22, 2012 - 2:08PM


    A collapsed Pakistan is your wishful thinking, but, we are tremendous survivors. for decades we have fought indian aggression, survived dirty politics, proxy wars, terrorism, corruption. This aid would be our least concern, as its already not reaching to the grass root. it will only leave politician’s pockets empty. If india, with 500 million people below poverty line can claim to be next super power, we have high hopes from life.


  • kamran
    Jun 22, 2012 - 2:14PM

    no apology no supplies. Period


  • SM
    Jun 22, 2012 - 2:21PM

    Then the supply lines remain shut, big mouth Panetta!!!


  • abc
    Jun 22, 2012 - 2:30PM

    @indian wait for you turn, us is a toxic material does not discriminate friend &enemy with time as there could be no friendship but equality.


  • Jun 22, 2012 - 2:32PM

    It is indeed time to move on, sir. Maybe you should send us enough money to pay power subsidies as compensation/


  • Osama
    Jun 22, 2012 - 2:50PM

    US should be grateful that we did not ask(for a trial) for the ones responsible for salala incident in exchange for the opening of the routes.


  • Dr Vikas
    Jun 22, 2012 - 3:14PM

    I wish u also become a super power(not nuclear power) very soon, but fact mentioned by u (that India is an aggressor) seems to be untrue to me .
    India in its history has never been an aggressor.Incedents like Siachin or any other may be just to keep a strategic hold for surveilance.


  • Rana
    Jun 22, 2012 - 3:40PM

    Infect it’s very much in Pakistan’s favor that you people don’t apologize, because it’s a handy reason to keep you spanking.


  • ullo
    Jun 22, 2012 - 5:24PM

    Oops…you did it again….Mr Panetta…!!


  • Pragmatist
    Jun 22, 2012 - 6:27PM

    @Blithe: Why should anybody talk about Kashmir? It is India’s problem not anybody else’s. He has the sense to realize that.


  • Tango
    Jun 23, 2012 - 12:19AM

    One wonders whom the great US schools teach prudence and modesty!!


  • Cosmo
    Jun 23, 2012 - 1:30AM

    By the way it may surprise you but I guess Pakistan’s credibility is probably the wort in the whole world. Afghanistan on the other hand is much trusted !


  • ayesha_khan
    Jun 23, 2012 - 2:51AM

    @Donku: “A collapsed Pakistan is your wishful thinking, but, we are tremendous survivors. for decades we have fought indian aggression”

    Actually contrary to what your army has been telling you – it is Pakistan who is constantly attacing India not the other way around. SO – no. You have not fought Indian aggression because India never attacked you.


  • Sexton Blake
    Jun 23, 2012 - 9:57AM

    You are right. America is in reasonably good shape financially. After all, whenever there is a shortage of dollars they start up the printing presses. However, I have it on good authority that the printing presses are wearing out and an order for new ones is taking longer than anticipated.


  • stevenson
    Jun 23, 2012 - 6:47PM

    @Aquarian Truths: What free dollars- Pakistan has lost over 100 billion and suffered instability after defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan, ending the Cold War, and now fighting the war on terrorism. Pakistan has paid the greatest price and the West has got its work done very cheaply. Why should Pakistan sell itself so cheaply when the West saves trillions that it would otherwise have spent?


  • Sexton Blake
    Jun 24, 2012 - 7:34PM

    We do not really know how good or how bad the F-16 is, because they go a long way back in history now and they have never been used in battle against a top-line air force. Additionally, the F-22 cannot be taken too seriously, because the pilots keep blacking out, suffer health problems, and the maintenance costs are incredibly high. Then we get to the F-35., usually referred to as the “flying lemon”. I could write a long discourse on the so called top U.S. aircraft, but why bother. The Pentagon is desperately trying to keep the lid on a series of aircraft which are non-effective. Pakistan would be better advised to stick with Russian and Chinese equipment. Let the Western countries waste their money on these non-performing aircraft. .


  • Dilawar Khan
    Jun 30, 2012 - 11:37PM

    The first and foremost apology that Pakistan needs is the one from Taliban.They have ruthlessly murdered thousands, and slaughtered our own soldiers,and to which they proudly release its video footage.I think we need to recognize our real enemy. It should be a matter of least concern whether US seeks apology or not, we must rather be busy in exterminating Taliban.


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