US Withdraws Negotiators After Pakistan Border Deal Talks Stall

Embassy Faults Pakistan Over Lack of Deal

The Obama Administration has withdrawn its negotiators from Pakistan after failing to reach a deal with the Pakistani government on reopening the border to occupied Afghanistan. The border has been closed since November, when US warplanes attacked Pakistani border outposts, killing 24 soldiers.

Pakistan’s parliament had conditioned a deal on the US apologizing for the November attack and stopping all drone strikes against the tribal areas. The cabinet has suggested that it would accept less than what parliament was asking, provided it included a significant increase in fees for trucks crossing the border.

The US, for its part, has spurned both Pakistani demands, refusing to apologize and escalating the drone attacks even further. The US has also condemned the calls for higher fees as “price gouging.”

Despite being unwilling to make any concessions, the US embassy seemed to fault Pakistan for the lack of a deal, saying that it was ready to rush negotiators back to the country “as soon as Pakistan is ready” to conclude a deal.

How that is supposed to happen at this point is unclear. Anger at the US is only growing in Pakistan, and with Pakistani elections drawing ever closer it will be harder and harder for the Zardari government to bypass parliament and cut a sweetheart deal for the US, even if it were able to get some nominal concession.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.