WASHINGTON (AP) — Say you're sorry. That's what the Pakistani government says it wants from the United States in order to jump-start a number of initiatives between the two countries that would help the hunt for al-Qaida in Pakistan and smooth the end of the war in Afghanistan.
Pakistan wants the U.S. to apologize for a border incident in November 2011 in which the U.S. killed 24 Pakistani troops with several air strikes. The U.S. has expressed regret for the incident, a diplomatic step short of an apology, and said it was a tragic case of mistaken identity, in which each side mistook the other for militants and both sides erroneously fired on the other.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton even explored the possibilities of an apology with a Pakistani diplomat in a London meeting but then backed off when the Pakistanis insisted the apology be timed for maximum political impact on their turf.
The Pakistanis have put the apology at the top of a long list of demands to address what they see as insults to national pride and sovereignty — from the Navy SEAL raid onto Pakistani territory last year that killed Osama bin Laden to the steady U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani territory. A lot of these demands are now up in the air with the news Tuesday that Pakistan's high court had dismissed the prime minister, a move that could usher in months of turmoil in the country's government.
From the American point of view, Pakistan has not done enough to stop attacks on U.S. troops carried out by the Taliban and members of the Haqqani clan who shelter in Pakistan's tribal areas.
So the two nominal allies are at a standoff.
A look at what that means for the U.S. taxpayer, the war and counterterrorism efforts:
Pakistan shut its borders to NATO resupply convoys heading to Afghanistan because of the deadly November incident. The U.S. and NATO had been trucking supplies in and out of the Afghan war zone from the Pakistani port of Karachi. The Pakistanis charged the U.S. $500 per truck. Because the U.S. has not apologized for the airstrike, Pakistan has closed that route, and supplies to U.S. and NATO troops have been taking a northern route that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says is costing an extra $100 million a month now and could grow as the U.S. starts to withdraw equipment in advance of the 2014 troop drawdown in Afghanistan. Negotiations have stalled over reopening the routes, mostly over the apology, and it's clear the Pakistanis plan to charge double or more to use their route if they reopen it.
MILITARY AID Continued...