Pakistan Today, July 6, 2012
Sherry Rehman sees â€˜historic turnâ€™ in ties after US apologyÂ
WASHINGTON – The US apology over the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers at Salala coupled with Islamabadâ€™s green light for transportation of NATO supplies to Afghanistan represents a â€œhistoric turnâ€ in bilateral relations, Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman said. The Pakistani diplomat told CNN in an interview that her countryâ€™s decision to allow NATO supplies into Afghanistan without imposition of any additional transit charges speaks of Islamabadâ€™s commitment to peace in the region. â€œToday and yesterday mark a historic turn in the relationship. We have been able to, I think, turn towards building on this opportunity and halt the downward spiral (in Pakistan-US ties),â€ she told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room program. Sherry was commenting on an end to a seven-month standoff between two countries and sharp decline in Pakistani-US relations resulting from the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a November 2011 American air strike on Slalala posts along the Afghan border. The relations were also strained by several other issues including unilateral US drone strikes on tribal areas and last yearâ€™s US raid on Abbottabad that took out al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The US, on the other hand, has its own set of concerns, including perceived Pakistani inaction to stem cross-border activities of Afghan Haqqani militants. Washington halted payment of billions of dollars in promised CSF money and aid for Pakistan after a spate of shocks in bilateral ties. Pakistan approved the passage of NATO supplies through its territory shortly after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US was â€œsorryâ€ over the deaths of Pakistani soldiers.