There are two separate major developments coming out of Pakistan in the last 24 hours. First, US negotiators have left Pakistan without reaching an agreement on reopening NATO supply routes. Both sides appear to be trying to gloss over the obvious conclusion that this represents a major breakdown in the process, but since it appears that Pakistan is insistent on a real apology over the killing of 24 Pakistani troops last November and a stop to US drone strikes in Pakistan, there is no reason to continue the lower level talks on details of route reopening until the larger political issues are settled.
On a separate front, the commission appointed by Pakistan’s supreme court has finally delivered its report and it places blame squarely on former ambassador Husain Haqqani for authoring the memo that sought US help in avoiding a military coup days after the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Haqqani has been ordered to return to the country, but he is rightly pointing out that the commission’s findings are not the result of a judicial process and that he has not yet presented his defense.
Dawn provides a summary of the breakdown in negotiations:
The Pentagon said on Monday the United States was pulling its negotiators from Pakistan but the State Department said the team could go back at an appropriate time.
Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington, Sherry Rehman, also indicated that the talks would continue.
But diplomatic observers in the US capital noted that “no spin can hide the fact that relations between the two countries are at their worst now”, as one of them said on an American news channel.
“I believe that some of the team left over the weekend and the remainder of the team will leave shortly,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told a briefing in Washington. “This was a US decision.”
The Express Tribune offers more details:
Officials familiar with the development said the two sides have almost worked out technical details on the resumption of Nato supply lines but the deal could not be finalised due to political issues, including the US refusal to offer an explicit apology for the Salala raid and halt drone strikes.
“Unless the US offers something that resembles an apology, it is very difficult for Pakistan to reopen Nato supplies,” said an official familiar with the development.
“We want to have a package deal and the issue of apology is still included … there will be no compromise on it,” the official added.