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Pakistan reopens NATO supply route after US apology



Pakistan has reopened NATO's supply routes into Afghanistan, more than seven months after they were shut down following the deaths of 24 Pakistanis in a clash with US soldiers at the border between Afghanistan's Kunar province and Pakistan's Mohmand tribal agency. Twenty-four Pakistani troops were killed after they opened fire on US and Afghan troops operating in Kunar. From The Los Angeles Times:

Pakistani leaders on Tuesday ended a seven-month blockade on Afghanistan-bound NATO supply routes through their country, a long-awaited move that hinged on Washington's acquiescence to Islamabad's demand for an apology for the deaths of two dozen Pakistani soldiers killed by errant U.S. airstrikes last fall.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she had called her Pakistani counterpart, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, on Tuesday and issued an apology for the soldiers' deaths: "We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again."

Both parties are claiming that the US will not have to pay an additional fee to transport supplies. Time will tell if the US has paid off Pakistan in other ways. Again, from The Los Angeles Times:

Another major sticking point in negotiations was Pakistan's demand for a step-up in fees NATO would pay for using Pakistan as a transit conduit for supply convoys. NATO had been paying about $250 per truck, and at one point Pakistan was insisting on raising the cost to $5,000 per truck. U.S. officials had called the proposed increase unrealistic.

Clinton said Khar told her that Pakistan had decided to reopen the supply routes, and had decided not to charge any transit fee. However, it remained unclear whether Pakistan still planned to demand other financial charges or tolls.

The Pakistan supply lines are key for the US and NATO to remove heavy equipment from Afghanistan as it begins the massive drawdown. The US has established a northern supply corridor (called the Northern Distribution Network, see LWJ report, Analysis: The US-Pakistan relationship and the critical factor of supply) through Russia and former Soviet satellite nations, but the cost of moving the supplies via that route has been three to five times more than that of the Pakistan route.

The International Security Assistance Force is pleased the supply lines through Pakistan have been reopened and hailed Pakistan's decision as growing cooperation between "two countries" (it is unclear which two countries ISAF is referring to; General Allen leads ISAF, an international coalition, and is also a US military commander).

"These continuing discussions underscore the importance of working together on the challenges facing our two countries in the days, months, and years to come. I look forward to future opportunities to work together toward our common goals, by taking coordinated action against terrorists," [ISAF Commanding General John] Allen said. The two commanders also discussed the growing value of the relationship and the tactical and operational efforts and measures being taken to defeat the terrorists that threaten the region.


READER COMMENTS: "Pakistan reopens NATO supply route after US apology"

Posted by Paul D at July 3, 2012 4:34 PM ET:

Will Pakistan apologise for the amount of Nato blood on their hands?

Posted by jayc at July 3, 2012 4:38 PM ET:

That's right, Hillary. Kill them with kindness.

Posted by Charu at July 3, 2012 6:33 PM ET:

Now the Pakistanis can apologize to us for sheltering Osama in Abbottabad. Or for the hundreds of NATO soldiers killed by their treachery.

Depressing, but can't fight the reality on the ground. Wonder how many millions went to grease the wheels in Pakistan?

Posted by Joe at July 3, 2012 7:15 PM ET:

Our entire relation with Pakistan is based on a massive amount of lies and self-deceit. If we ever get out of Afghanistan the next thing we should do is start eliminating the S wing of the ISI and everyone else who he is involved in their double-dealing. Those people are even more culpable for this mess than the actual terrorists are.

Posted by Nic at July 3, 2012 7:55 PM ET:

"Another major sticking point in negotiations was Pakistan's demand for a step-up in fees NATO would pay for using Pakistan as a transit conduit for supply convoys. NATO had been paying about $250 per truck, and at one point Pakistan was insisting on raising the cost to $5,000 per truck." The United States should then decrease aid to Pakistan at the rate of $10,000 per truck. As always, send your opinions and ideas to your congressional representative. http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

Posted by mike merlo at July 3, 2012 8:22 PM ET:

The US screwed up way back when. Right from the get go back in 2001 the US should have demanded Port 'facilities' at the Jinnah Naval Base(Ormara) & construction of a road straight from the port to Afghanistan.

While there probably is some cost savings in once again using Pakistan as transit the benefits in using the Black & Baltic seas as ports on entry, hence land routes, are much more beneficial in the long run. We've should have gone forward with 'apology' but declined the 'invitation' to use Pakistan as a transit route.

It won't be long before another incident percolates to the surface with the Paki's whining & nitpicking about everything imaginable & then some.

Posted by Devin Leonard at July 3, 2012 9:43 PM ET:

As long as Obama didn't give a public apology, that's fine with me.

Posted by Abu Bin Don at July 4, 2012 4:17 AM ET:

US should aplogize aswell for killing innocent people in Iraq- Afghanistan-

Brave Pakistani people made the tyrant apologize-

Posted by Neonmeat at July 4, 2012 6:08 AM ET:

Really this is quite a funny situation.

I think of it as Pakistan being the kid in the school yard who has taken a bump on the knee but won't get up and play again until someone kisses it better.

So Hilary says sorry for the loss of Pakistani lives (which is showing more concern for Pak Soldiers than most Pakistani citizens!) and Pakistan says all is well once again!

So was that it really Pakistan? You just wanted an apology? If thats all it takes to get this over-arrogant corrupt government on 'our side' (like we really believe that!) then I'd apologise all day long!

Posted by Scott at July 4, 2012 9:57 AM ET:

Mrs. Clinton's "apology" wasn't an apology at all. Her statement admits no mistake, no culpability to the U.S. for the Pakistani losses.

Yeah, we're sorry for the losses. Unspoken: We're sorry your troops collaborate with and support certain taliban forces. We're sorry that killing those troops was necessary. We're sorry that they were firing artillery at our troops before we killed them. We're sorry that we don't have a real partner in the war on terror.

Posted by Neonmeat at July 4, 2012 12:21 PM ET:

@ Abu Bin Don

I guess you're a troll.

Or an idiot.

There are brave Pakistani people you are right. 17 of them were beheaded last week by the Taliban while they were protecting Pakistan. May they sit by Allah in heaven.

But believe me it is not your duplicitous politicians or Military Leaders.

Posted by JRP at July 4, 2012 12:31 PM ET:

@ Mike Merlo . . .
Where the U.S. screwed up after 9/11 was in not obtaining a formal declaration of war under the Constitution from the Congress and in not commencing a draft.

The War on Terror is every bit as existential for the U.S. as was WWII. Above everything else, above the economy; above health car reform; above everything else is the danger we face from detonation of nukes smuggled into the U.S. or brought close in to any coast.

Posted by Mike B. at July 4, 2012 1:05 PM ET:

@abu bin don, Im sorry that your kind doesnt realize that once you point your rusty AK at an American soldier, you are no longer an "innocent civillian". There is your apology. If people like you would use common sense, then you wouldnt end up as a grease stain on some 3rd world street.
The cowardly pakistanis play both sides. They have no honor, just like their taliban allies.

Posted by Dresdendavid at July 4, 2012 1:12 PM ET:

All that matters is that the route is open again. It does not matter how. All the crap stated above goes on everyday by all governments in all dealings both domestic and foreign. This is just the way it is in now and has always been throughout history. Just accept it.

Posted by villiger at July 4, 2012 1:25 PM ET:

Abu Don,

Very brave Pakistanis when they stood up for their 17 soldiers slaughtered and beheaded by the Taliban. Wonderful Muslim morals on display.

btw, i happen to agree with you on the innocents killed in Iraq and Afghanistan but get your Paqi brothers to get their house in order instead of expressing false encouragement.

Posted by DinkaChika at July 4, 2012 2:51 PM ET:

A latest cartoon in Indian Media on Pak Apology.

http://i1160.photobucket.com/albums/q484/JaidevJamwal/Pakiprostitute.jpg

Posted by mi1400 at July 5, 2012 1:36 AM ET:

Abu Bin Don nice!... and adding to your point ... on top appology U.S has also committed to "prevent this from ever happening again" ... so they have really dug themselves neck deep in compulsions. after this .... Kashmir 2014 in your cinemas soon!...

Posted by Kulamarva Balakrishna at July 5, 2012 10:44 AM ET:

Vienna,July 5,2012
Here is a Pakistani climb down. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton´s "apology" for the lost soldiers and
condolence to the families is the maximum obtained
by the bargain.General Allen has apologized General
Kayani before. He was told that apology should be
addressed to higher political level.Reports that the
U.S. was considering retaining military hardware
stocks in the neighboring Northern countries of
Afghanistan beyond 2014 served as alarm signal to
Pakistan. Besides the stoppage of cash inflow from
financial institutions mostly controlled by 49 former
Friends of Democratic Pakistan, FoDP keep hurting.
Until Obama administration was ushered in Pakistan
was high on the Himalayas.Note now no more German
World Security Network, managed by Pakistani generals
holding Federally Administered Tribal Areas,FATA
conferences.The isolation is so complete that Makkah
based Muslim World League has become dysfunctional
to the extent the Keeper of Holy Places no more
sends back Indians holding Muslim Pakistani passports
and identities to Pakistan.As for the troika political
management of that country,it is being replaced by
a MUSICAL CHAIR government indicative of Long War
ending successfully with the second surrender of
Pakistan forces on Durand Line borders. But the rest
of the world can rejoice only when all the violent cell
mines abroad are cleared.The twentieth century had
begun with exploding Armenian cells around Turkey.This century commences unearthing Muslim cells.
Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
--kulamarva Balakrishna

Posted by Ghost Soldier at July 5, 2012 5:10 PM ET:

Dear Pakistan:

Sorry we're killing all of the Pakistani insurgents that have come to Kunar to shoot at the US.

Signed,

Haha

Posted by sundoesntrise at July 5, 2012 6:47 PM ET:

Mike Merlo

That road would have been mined and riddled with IEDs and assassins waiting for their time to kill, you can bet on it. It would have been an absolute disaster.

As much as I agree with fighting the long war on terror, the U.S. has no right to force other nations to use their land and their bases to give into the interests of the U.S. The Americans have had thousands of military bases in foreign lands for decades now and it has brought us no closer to ultimately defeating Al Qaeda. Sure, it has enabled us to give them body blows once in a while, but we still cannot land the knockout punch and that's because we need to accept the fact that Islamism has ideological roots in the populace of the Muslim world, it resonates with them.

Find a way to counter Islamism on an ideological level and the Islamists will be revealed for what they truly are, a bunch of bandits and subversive thugs injuring and killing whoever they want.

Posted by Charu at July 5, 2012 8:13 PM ET:

There were Taliban operating from the vicinity of the Pakistani position (I am being charitable here, because the Taliban fighting NATO troops and the Pakistani military are closely intertwined). The Pakistanis kept firing from their positions on the ISAF Afghan joint patrol even after they were buzzed by NATO planes to let them know who was in the area; an openly hostile act in my reckoning because the Taliban certainly don't have planes. After the Pakistani HC incorrectly reported that they had no troops in the area, only then were they attacked with lethal consequences by NATO planes.

The Pakistanis kept attacking the ISAF patrol even after they were warned because they wanted to give cover to the Taliban who were being pursued. They thought that they were secure hiding behind their sovereign positions and that NATO, like the Indians who they often fire upon when they similarly provide cover to infiltrating terrorists, would back off from hot pursuit. They thought wrong. Hence their fury.

So it is more like a kid hiding inside a box from which he throws stones at others in the playground and then seeks kisses for the trashing he gets. There have been a lot more Pakistani troops beheaded by their "bad" Taliban, but you don't see the media fury being whipped up by the ISI as they did (selectively) with this incident.

They desperately need the money and so they jumped on this excuse to reopen the supply route; however, they still grasp their knives behind their backs even as they glad hand you with the other.

Posted by mike merlo at July 6, 2012 1:40 PM ET:

@JRP
I agree. I posted an earlier comment that said the same concerning a declaration of war. That being said it still doesn't change the logistical realities.

@sundoesntrise
As opposed to what? Moving material from Karachi to Peshawar & Quetta then on to Afghanistan via Khyber, Torkham & Chaman(Khojak)? Take a look at a map some time. Western Balochistan is sparsely populated & its terrain & other features of consequence lend itself to a much more manageable security situation. Ormara is a Naval Base whose construction was completed in June of 2000. For the amount of money the US has funneled into Pakistan & Afghanistan a road connecting the two would have been a pittance comparatively & paid great dividends both financially & politically.

Posted by villiger at July 7, 2012 7:20 AM ET:

DinkaChika

Good one except the cartoonist's conception of Paqistan is utterly unrealistic. She is totally screwed up and ugly as sin, not beautiful and seductive as she has been portrayed. Thats why any deal with her has to inevitably end up south.

Posted by 21st century fox at July 7, 2012 12:58 PM ET:

ml@1400, say Hello to the 21st century--you're living in the past re Kashmir. Don't get yourself too worked up or get too excited. Kashmiris don't need help from terrorists or losers like you. I don't think you've ever been there nor any chance you will. Now scurry back to your local Taliban video shop and work off your wet dreams drenched in the blood of your innocent Muslim brothers and sisters. That is the reality of Paqistan and the Kashmiris know, as the world knows, how that movie ends. The name, 'Sick man of Asia'. Or it could be 'The Beggar of Asia', 'The Broken Man of Asia' or even 'The Bloodthirsty Man of Asia'. Colorful choices, right?

Posted by sundoesntrise at July 8, 2012 2:30 PM ET:

Mike Merlo

Well it's kind of easy to say on here but actually building the road would be a different thing. The Taliban and other terror groups did have a presence in Balochistan at that time, although limited.

There's no guarantee back then that it would have been a success. Let's say you build the road anyways. What if local saboteurs mine it? What if, as I said above, extremist elements make it their entire purpose just to disrupt supplies among this one road?

Building that road now, I believe, is out of the question for security reasons.

Posted by mike merlo at July 8, 2012 6:50 PM ET:

@sundoesntrise
The US has been & continues building roads & related transpo infrastructure not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan. To suggest 'no guarantees' or sabotage is a bit of an oxymoron. Since when has the AfPak theater lent itself to an absolutely favorable outcome in something other than theory or not been subjected to legerdemain?

A more than cursory look at western & central Balochistan reveals a part of the theater seriously lacking in the type of support the Taliban & it's allies have found so readily available in its customary operational zones. Historically western & central Balochistan have never posed much than a nuisance. Even during the height of the Soviet Occupation & the follow on events western & central Balochistan were never really merited more than a casual interest if that at all.

Even building the road now would incur little opposition. For the Taliban & it's allies to do the type of shift you're talking would require something of such a magnitude that it would probably take them a 2 or 3 years to scale up to the level you're suggesting. In the meantime their present zones of operation would suffer immeasurably.

Posted by sundoesntrise at July 8, 2012 11:53 PM ET:

Yes, they've been building things for decades now but this situation is unique and different. This is the Taliban we're talking about, a group that respects no boundaries at all. And they are just one group out of many. It's not an oxymoron to suggest that what I am suggesting would indeed happen, it's an outcome that very well may happen and that's why like I said, it's easier to talk about it on here rather than actually building the road. I'm sure if we really thought it was safe and wanted to do it, it would happen. We have shown before that we can pull the arm of the Pakistanis really hard when we want to. Remember the CIA contractor they released at the dismay of their entire nation?

Although the presence of anti-Western Islamist groups in Balochistan is fluid, and always subject to change, they have steadily grown in presence over the years. They realize they can not stay in the tribal areas and always get hit by drones, so they disperse and some have gone to Balochistan:

http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/caii/features/main/2010/11/15/feature-02

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C03%5C24%5Cstory_24-3-2012_pg1_3

http://dawn.com/2011/10/22/taliban-regrouping-in-balochistan-say-intelligence-reports/

http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2011/02/04/feature-01

http://balochistanwatch.blogspot.ca/2011/10/kharotabad-taliban-safe-haven.html

http://dawn.com/2012/07/05/balochistan-refuses-to-provide-security-to-nato-vehicles/

Of course, I should point out it has always been speculated that the Quetta Shura's senior leadership have free reign in the Baloch capital. The U.S. even wanted to expand drone strikes into the area, but of course the Pakistanis did not let them do that.

Mike, it's easy to say Balochistan has never proved much of a nuisance but it seems many people who comment on the issue would disagree. Armed groups are swarming all over the province and the Taliban and militant Islamists are a force to be reckoned with. To say that it's impossible for that road to be minded, attacked and blocked just does not make sense.

Now, as for Taliban troop formations, I wonder where you get your info. You are speaking as if the Taliban have a finite, limited amount of soldiers and that they would suffer immensely if they moved some of those limited number of troops from the tribal areas into Balochistan. The Taliban have quite a few forces at their disposal. I remember Bill making a series of posts sometime last year about the Taliban having 800, sometimes 1200 suicide bombers in one tribal agency at their disposal. Not only that, but they are a tribal society, and so if you kill one member of the family, fighting aged males are encouraged to join to get revenge for their fallen loved ones. There is also the lure of Jihad, which the Taliban takes advantage of by recruiting at mosques, going on public fundraising events and brining in children for "education" at their madrassahs they have all over Pakistan.

If the Taliban truly had a limited number of forces as you suggest, then it would not be so hard to put them down as it has been in Afghanistan. I mean look at Kunar and Nuristan, the troops and special forces do sweeping ops where they basically "mow the grass", kill a few hundred fighters, seize weapons caches and then leave. A little while later, the Taliban come back, and the troops have to go back for more operations to fight them. So the Taliban have no problem when it comes to troop formations, and they have had a presence in Balochistan for a while now, obviously not as high profile as their traditional strongholds but that's because nobody is publicly fighting them in Balochistan, they are mostly left alone.

The Taliban have the ability, as shown, to strike almost anywhere in Afghanistan and Pakistan that they wish. Attacking a road in Balochistan would be just as little of a problem for them as striking at an ISI headquarters in Lahore.

I wonder what Bill thinks of this issue.

Posted by Bill Roggio at July 9, 2012 2:13 AM ET:

I am with sundoesntrise on this one.

There is a strong Taliban presence in Baluchistan; there is even a faction called the Movement of the Taliban in Baluchistan. Chaman and Gerdi Jangal serve as key Taliban hubs, as of course does Quetta. When Mullah Dadullah was killed in 2007, the Taliban held a large rally/"wake" in Baluchistan; around 10,000 people attended ABC News even got video if I recall correctly). There have been numerous cases of the Taliban ambushing NATO supply columns in Baluchistan (Quetta, Mastung, Kuzdar, Mach, Chaman, etc.) when they've chosen to turn up the heat (I've strongly suspected this happens when the PakMil gives them the green light to do so).

One example (with a mention of the Movement of the Taliban in Baluchistan, even, there are others at LWJ):

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/10/taliban_torch_27_nat.php

The Taliban in Baluchistan operate far more smartly than the TTP (they don't threaten the Pakistani state, primarily). Thus they don't look like a problem. It all happens under the covers.

And yes, mowing the grass in Kunar/Nuristan has been less than successful over the years. The locals know we're not staying, and the Taliban, etc. are. Couple that with the sanctuaries in Pakistan and the madrassas there that churn out jihadists, you have a near-endless supply...

Posted by Zeissa at July 10, 2012 10:07 AM ET:

The problem is cultural. Sometimes you must do the illogical and stand up for your principles and not apologize, but bring the other party to the end of the tether with your evidence.

Wars are not won by winning the hearts and minds of your enemies, but by blowing up stolen fuel tankers and incinerating one third of the Taliban in a province.

Posted by Villiger at July 10, 2012 10:43 AM ET:

sundoesntrise:

"Find a way to counter Islamism on an ideological level and the Islamists will be revealed for what they truly are, a bunch of bandits and subversive thugs injuring and killing whoever they want."

This is the key.

And on Balochistan, aren't all the Taliban there, even more so, under the complete control of the Paq Mil?

Interesting blog on the subject of Balochistan and their freedom struggle:

http://ramanstrategicanalysis.blogspot.in/2012/07/baloch-freedom-struggle-time-for-new.html