The US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has invited Pakistan to a summit in Chicago beginning next Sunday, in a clear indication that Pakistan is willing to reopen NATO routes to Afghanistan.
Pakistan had blocked supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan after 24 of its soldiers on the Pak-Afghan border were killed in a drone strike last November.
Tensions between the two countries had been escalating ever since the US killed terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden inside Pakistan just about a year ago in a commando operation without any reference to the Pakistani authorities. But, the Pakistan government seems prepared to forget and forgive, as President Asif Zardari has reportedly accepted the NATO invite.
Despite various reservations, the US continues to see Pakistan as a vital ally in its Afghan wars - a view definitely not shared by India.
According to a Financial Times report, US and Pakistani officials said on Tuesday that an agreement to reopen the supply routes was close. It is expected to be announced at the NATO conference in Chicago on Sunday, where the future security arrangements in Afghanistan will be one of the main items on the agenda.
George Little, acting US assistant secretary of defence for public affairs, said on Tuesday that the supply route would be opened ''in the very near future''. He was speaking a day after Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar strongly suggested that the time was right to reopen the route.
He was speaking a day after Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar strongly suggested that the time was right to reopen the route. She said on Monday that while the initial decision to block the routes had been correct, Pakistan could not afford to continue alienating the other countries involved in the Afghanistan conflict.
''It was important to make a point. Pakistan has made a point and now we can move on,'' Khar told a news conference in Islamabad. ''The issue is not just that of relations with the US but with the other 42 countries that have stakes in Afghanistan.''