Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who is currently in the United States on a weeklong visit, has urged US President to tender an unconditional apology to Pakistan over the Salala attack. 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in November last year when US gunship helicopters pounded on a military outpost in Mohmand Agency. Pakistan called the attack "unprovoked and unwarranted" and demanded an unconditional apology from the US over the incident. However, the Obama administration has been reluctant to apologize over the incident for certain reasons.
As Barack Obama is running for reelection, the Democrats believe that an apology to Pakistan can hamper the election campaign. The Obama administration fears that Republicans would make an issue out of the apology and use the point to tarnish image of the president.
At first, US officials did show some signs of offering apology over the tragic incident, but now they are thinking otherwise.
Analysts based in the United States believe that the US was willing to offer apology over the incident, but the PPP-led coalition government in Pakistan could not avail the opportunity. They say that Secretary of Statewas about to apologize over the incident, but then she was asked to postpone it for a definite time. The PPP-led coalition government thought the apology would help boost their credentials if it was offered after the parliamentary recommendations for engagement with the US. Despite repeated demands by Pakistan, the US ultimately declined to apologize over the incident.
Bilawal Bhutto today said the US president should show some courage and apologize to Pakistan because the act would help bring deteriorated relations between both the countries back on the track.
The PPP chairman also urged President Obama to end drone strikes in the tribal region of Pakistan, as they had been counterproductive besides being illegal and in violation of international rules and regulations. Bilawal Bhutto also said the drone strikes by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were one of the reasons for negative sentiments against the United States in Pakistan. He added the relations between both the countries could be improved significantly if both the countries succeeded in reducing mutual trust deficit.
The PPP chairman is visiting the US at a time when both the countries are striving hard to improve the deteriorated relations.
Earlier, Pakistan ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman has also urged the Obama administration to tender an unconditional apology over the Salala attack to move forward on other issues of bilateral interest. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Pakistan on an official trip, has also demanded the US to apologize to Pakistan.
It is pertinent to mention here that Turkey is a member of NATO and an important friend of Pakistan. A number of discerning observers based in New York believe that Turkey is pushing Pakistan to reopen NATO supply routes and offering certain guarantees that such an incident will not be repeated.