The US apology resolved one of the touchiest disputes between the two countries in what has lately been a testy relationship. But it remains to be seen if the new tone signaled in Clinton’s statement carries over into real improvement in relations.
Some Pakistan analysts were quick to warn that the apology and resulting reopening of Pakistan’s border to NATO supplies into Afghanistan would of themselves do little to improve relations or prospects for security in Afghanistan.
“Merely re-opening the supply routes will not help the US achieve its objectives in Afghanistan because it does not address the fundamental problem of continuing Pakistani support for the Taliban and Haqqani network that are killing US and coalition forces on a daily basis in Afghanistan,” says Lisa Curtis, a South Asia expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “Pakistan has never explained – let alone apologized – for its lack of action against the enemies of the US that find sanctuary on its soil,” she says.
Pakistan immediately closed its borders to the transport of NATO supplies into Afghanistan after the Nov. 26 border attack, costing the US and its NATO allies hundreds of millions of dollars in higher transport outlays for more expensive routes and transport methods.
Pentagon officials estimate that the Pakistan land routes into Afghanistan carried about half of all supplies for the Afghan war effort, at about one-tenth the cost of air transport. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in congressional testimony in June that using costlier routes (the so-called northern route through Russia and Central Asian countries to Europe) and relying more on air transport was costing the US and its partners in Afghanistan $100 million a month.