After US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued an apology to Pakistan on Tuesday, the first supply trucks entered Afghanistan from Pakistan this morning. Although there had been suggestions during the negotiations to re-open the supply lines that were closed last November after the US killed over 20 Pakistani troops at a border post that Pakistan would charge a “toll” of up to $5000 per container shipped through the country, no fees to Pakistan are being paid. There does, however, appear to be an agreement in the works under which the US will re-pave the highway destroyed by the supply convoys. The Express Tribune is reporting this morning that extortion payments from the US to the Afghan Taliban for “protection” of the convoys, a practice that was in place prior to closure of the supply routes, will resume.
Here is the apology Clinton delivered to her counterpart in Pakistan:
This morning, I spoke by telephone with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
I once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident in Salala last November. I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives. Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again.
As I told the former Prime Minister of Pakistan days after the Salala incident, America respects Pakistan’s sovereignty and is committed to working together in pursuit of shared objectives on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.
Reuters brings us the news of the first trucks passing from Pakistan into Afghanistan:
A pair of trucks carrying NATO supplies crossed into Afghanistan on Thursday, Pakistani customs officials said, the first time in more than seven months that Pakistan has allowed Western nations to use its roads to supply troops in Afghanistan.
Customs officials said the container trucks had passed through the Chaman border crossing into southern Afghanistan, a milestone following a deal this week with the United States ending the impasse triggered by the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by U.S. aircraft last November.
While Pakistan got the apology it wanted for the November border killings, the government agreed to drop demands to raise fees on supply trucks going into Afghanistan.