ISLAMABAD - The country’s top civilian and military leaders on Friday discussed at length the contentious issue of reopening of NATO supply routes and other conflicting matters with the US as indications from Washington hint at some flexibility in its stance on a public apology to Islamabad over the Salala attack.
Official quarters here are also saying that a ‘breakthrough’ in the stalemated Pak-US ties is on the cards.
President Asif Ali Zardari chaired a high-level meeting attended by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani as well as top civilian and military officials, including Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and ISI chief Lt General Zaheerul Islam.
The meeting thoroughly discussed various aspects of Pakistan-US relations with focus on the reopening of NATO supplies. The attendees were told that the US administration had begun showing some flexibility on an apology to be tendered over airstrikes on Pakistani border posts in Salala in November last year in which 24 soldiers were killed, according to sources privy to top level consultations.
“The top civilian and military officials were apprised that the US administration was pondering over the language of apology to be made to Pakistan and the matter is likely to be sorted out soon,” a source, seeking anonymity, said.
He said Pakistan had made it clear to the US that the apology was the main hurdle and the new tax amount for NATO trucks and containers was not relevant anymore, especially after Washington’s refusal to go beyond $500 million per vehicle in response to Islamabad’s demand for much higher sum of money. “The US is not willing to pay more than $500, which is not too high an amount than the previous rate of $250 so we have told them not to bother with that. However, significantly, the US is ready for the ‘carpeting’ of broken and damaged roads and highways used by thousands of NATO trucks before the supplies’ closure,” the source said.
A Washington-based Pakistani diplomat said after the fresh deadlock over the apology issue few days ago, Pakistani ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman had been visiting the American Congress and meeting important lawmakers daily to tell them the reasons behind Pakistan’s decisions to stick to the demand of an apology. “It seems that Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts are proving successful finally and we see the signs of melting of ice in US Congress and the White House,” he said, adding that in the next few days, there could be some breakthrough in the issue and meetings happening in Islamabad in this regard these days were very important.