| ||US Blinks First: Apologies as 8 Month Long Supply Blockade Lifted by Pakistan|
By Tabish Qayyum
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ISLAMABAD – In what is bound to be an unpopular decision, Pakistan has agreed to restore (GLOC) route for the NATO supplies after the Americans gave in to Pakistan Army’s demand of an apology for the Salala massacre in November lat year.
Pakistan had shut off two key land supply routes in the aftermath of what it called a ‘deliberate’ attack, resulting in the death of 22 of its soldiers.
According to latest reports, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accepted that Salala attack was a mistake on US’s part and apologized for the incident. An official statement is still expected from government of Pakistan.
Earlier President Obama claimed that he is expecting good news from Pakistan while General John Allen also apologized on the incident that was considered as the main bone of contention that was hindering the resumption process. There were indications of this outcome since Gen. John Allen, who was on his second visit to Pakistan in the last few days, indulged in an intense dialogue with Pakistani counterparts who are said to have discussed a long list of demands with regards to Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan’s future. Top of the list of these demands was an unconditional apology for the Salala massacre.
“The continued closure of supply lines not only infringes on our relationship with the U.S., but also on our relations with the 49 other member states of NATO/ISAF,” Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told senior government and military officials, according a statement issued by his office earlier.
Since the blockade on 26 November 2011, US has suffered huge economic constraints due to the cost of supplying its forces through the expensive alternate routes of Central Asia. Pentagon has asked Congress to shift billions of dollars in the defense budget to pay for added fuel costs to ferry supplies to Afghanistan after Pakistan closed its border to NATO convoys, U.S. officials said Monday.
In an 82-page letter to congressional defense committees, the Pentagon requested “reprogramming” $8.2 billion in funds previously approved to finance more urgent priorities, officials said, AFP reported. There were “some unanticipated costs that we just didn’t foresee,” spokesman Captain John Kirby told reporters.
Government is expected to face huge backlash from Difa-e-Pakistan Council that comprises of some of the most hard line parties such as Jamat-e-Islami, Jamat-ud-Dawa and Jamiyat-ulema-e-Islam who have announced a ‘Long March’ in case supplies are restored.
Addressing the convention on Sunday, Chairman DPC Maulana Sami-ul-Haq said that the rulers of Pakistan have become salves of America whose drone attacks have been killing innocent citizens of the country. He asked as to why the government did not approach the UN to get the drone attacks stopped. Only an hour ago, Imran khan leader of PTI has also shown his resentment on the expected resumption and vowed to protest in case it happens.
Tensions have remained high between US and Pakistan as US closes towards 2014 deadline of withdrawal from Afghanistan shifting its role to training and assistance. There have been numerous incidents where NATO containers were attacked. DPC has categorically stated that it will protest and resist in a non-violent manner, with more political parties such as PTI expected to join, it is yet to be seen how relations between US and PAK develop from where they have been so far.