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US should apologise for Salala cross-border attack: Pakistan

21 May, 2012

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CHICAGO: Islamabad has taken the first step by working towards restoring NATO supply routes and now Washington should apologise over Salala cross-border strikes that caused closure of the routes and end its drone attacks in Pakistan to help rebuild the relationship, Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman advocated on Sunday.

The envoy wrote in The Chicago Tribune that restoration of normalcy in Pakistan-US relations would serve the cause of peace and security in the region.

The NATO summit in Chicago will focus on the endgame in Afghanistan on the heels of US House debate on bills that will shape the nature of the US-Pakistan relationship, Sherry said.

The US and Pakistan are working out details on how the blocked NATO supply routes could be opened.

"The tone of this debate and the diplomacy of the Obama administration will send a clear signal to the 180 million people of Pakistan as to whether the world's oldest democracy will stand with one of the world's newest democracies to defeat terrorism and extremism for a politically stable and economically viable South Asia. Many are pessimistic," Sherry wrote.

Stressing the importance of a series of confidence-building measures that could recast the bilateral relationship, the ambassador said, "If the war against extremism is to succeed, the war of words between democratic allies must end."

She pointed out that the unilateral raid on Abbottabad, the Raymond Davis CIA provocation, the US-led NATO air assault in Salala that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and the continuing unauthorised drone attacks on Pakistani soil frayed 60-year special relationship between the two countries.

Significant progress could be made toward resetting the relationship if the US were to finally apologise for the battlefield deaths at Salala, she emphasised.

The US should reimburse the Coalition Support Funds – US repayments to Pakistan for the cost of battling terrorism – owed to Pakistan, a very small part of the $78 billion that Pakistan has lost on account of the war against extremism since 2001.

Washington should also increase the sharing of counterterrorism intelligence to assist the Pakistan Army in combating extremism and cease the controversial drone operations that violate Pakistan's sovereignty and the norms of international law.

On the economic front, the ambassador called for shifting to a policy of 'trade not aid' by providing enhanced access to US markets for Pakistan's exports.

"These game-changing steps would serve as a deathblow to extremist expansion in the region."


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