After months of dithering on exactly what it would take to reopen the border from Pakistan to occupied Afghanistan for US supply trucks, a highly secretive meeting between Gen. John Allen and Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff Gen. Parvez Kayani has netted a clear response from Pakistan, according to those familiar with the talks.
“No apology, no supplies” was the official response from the Pakistani military, and since the civilian government told the military to handle the question of US supplies themselves, this seem to be a very final position.
It refers of course to the November 26 US attack on Pakistani military bases, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. President Obama expressed “regret” for the deaths at the time, but officials have repeatedly refused to actually apologize for the attack, with Sec. Leon Panetta insisting last weekend that the US would never apologize for the killings.
The initial Pakistani position was for both an apology and an end to US drone strikes, when this was spurned the idea of an increase in fees was raised, which Panetta condemned as “price gouging.”
In the end, it seems the red line for Pakistan is an apology, and considering the loss of the Pakistan route is costing the US $100 million a month, one would think they would consider this the cheaper alternative. Ultimately, the Obama Administration’s determination not to apologize, even when they are clearly in the wrong, is going to be sharply tested here.