Will supply route deal heal U.S.-Pakistan ties?
(CBS News) After a seven month stalemate, Pakistani officials on Tuesday agreed to reopen a crucial supply route running between Pakistan and Afghanistan, signaling an apparent improvement in what had for months been an increasingly fraught relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. Still, according to CBS News senior national security analyst Juan Zarate, the two countries have a long way to go before the "deep chasm of distrust" between them is bridged.
"This will certainly help the relationship, but it won't heal the deep distrust that exists between the U.S. and Pakistan," Zarate said in a Tuesday appearance on "CBS This Morning." "This distrust goes back to the bin Laden raid - the sense from the Pakistani side that there are assaults on their sovereignty, and certainly distrust on the U.S. side that the Pakistanis aren't doing everything possible to stop terror networks across the border."
Pakistan closed the supply route last November after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a U.S. airstrike at a remote outpost near the Afghan border. The White House opted not to issue a formal apology for the strikes, despite urging from some in the State Department that such a move would help salvage the two nations' already-delicate alliance.
On Tuesday, however, after months of intense negotiations with Pakistani officials, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement saying that the U.S. was, "sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military" in the strike - though stopping short of directly apologizing for the incident.
"This is very helpful. It will reopen supply lines," Zarate said. "It's something to build on, but there's a deep chasm of distrust between the two sides that continues to bedevil the relationship."
During the seven months during which the supply path was shut down, the U.S. rerouted supplies through Russia and central Asia, an alternative that cost the nation billions of dollars. But Pakistan, too, suffered losses: The U.S. withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, and Pakistan was unable to collect the $250 crossing fee it charges each truck to pass through.
Despite the high cost, according to Zarate, the reopening of the route will prove most crucial to America as it ramps-up the withdrawal of combat troops and hardware from Afghanistan ahead of the 2014 deadline to end military involvement.
"The reason this supply route is important though, as we look to 2014... the withdrawal of supplies and troops will be important. It will be a massive effort and we'll need as many supply routes as possible," he said.
To see Zarate's discussion with "CBS This Morning" co-host Erica Hill, click on the video in the player above.
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