Pentagon confident supply routes in Pakistan will soon be reopened

Pentagon spokesmen expressed confidence Wednesday that U.S.-Pakistani relations can be mended, and that Islamabad soon will re-open routes used to supply American troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan closed two crucial border crossings used for some time by the U.S. military in Chaman and Torkham after a Nov. 26 NATO strike that killed two dozen Pakistani forces. That was just the latest incident to further escalate tensions between Washington and Islamabad.

The U.S. military has turned to other options, including increasing the use of ground routes through Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucuses.

The catches with those supply routes? It takes longer to move supplies into Afghanistan. And it is more costly.

Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters Wednesday he believes the Pakistan supply routes will be re-opened to the U.S. military soon.

He stressed that American forces have “stockpiles” of what they need, describing the troops as “well supplied.”

More broadly, Little also touched on the tense and fragile U.S.-Pakistani relationship, which has been on a downward spiral since American commandos killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad in early May.

U.S. lawmakers have called on the Obama administration to place strict restrictions on millions in U.S. aid that goes to Islamabad each year, with some even saying it is time to cut off the flow of American cash to an ally that sometimes defies it openly.

But legislation containing provisions on Pakistani aid fail to match that harsh rhetoric, mostly giving the administration escape hatches such as certifying certain things before the funds can be transferred.

Little repeated Pentagon and Obama administration officials’ description of the partnership as complicated abut “essential.”

He said he is “confident” the two reluctant allies can set a fashion a “baseline” in their relationship — but stressed it will take “a little hard work.”