An expression of remorse by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the Nato mistake that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at Salala check post last November finally clinched the deal that reopened the land route for the Nato goods to transit through to Afghanistan via Pakistan. The American side of the deal entails the unfreezing of the 1.1 billion dollar Coalition Support Fund that had been approved for payment to Islamabad against the amount it had spent on war on terror, but blocked since Pakistan refused to lift the blockade of Nato supplies imposed to express its anger at the Salala massacre. In a statement issued after she had spoken to Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on telephone, Secretary Clinton said, “We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistan military,” acknowledged the mistake and committed that the US would ensure “to prevent this (Salala) from ever happening again”. Clinton said that Khar had told her that Pakistan would reopen the supply channel and not insist on any transit fee. The Defence Committee of the Cabinet, also meeting on Tuesday, made the same decision.
One would perhaps understand that there must have been compulsions which led Pakistan to allow the transit route to open. There was, of course, the need to defuse tension with the superpower and over 40 of its coalition partners which had become particularly acute over the Nato goods controversy. Facilitating the evacuation of foreign troops by 2014 is also in Pakistan’s interest. However, the reset of relations with the US ought to have been seen in light of Parliament’s decision. The new arrangement must now be placed before Parliament for approval, to not totally destroy any impression that Pakistan’s parliament is sovereign and effective.