Play Dynamically not Dubiously

Maimuna Ashraf

Finally a decided decision has explicitly declared, NATO supply has been resumed since the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was ‘sorry’ for the loss of life in a botched air raid.  This sorry is being issued after seven months of the demise of twenty-four Pakistani soldiers, who lost their lives as a result of NATO attack on Pakistani military check post. The US

Hina Rabbani Khar on Nato Supply

apology for the lethal incident was asserted as the chief condition for reopening of NATO supply rotes, however after apology and reopening of routes, a plethora box of issues and concerns has also opened. Once again a debate to inquire the new story and true story has been instigated.

The focal point of commendations that came forward was that the US will have to tender a formal apology and also give an assurance that such incidents will not be repeated. It was assumed that matters will be settled down after apology and the strained Pak-US relations will be smoothened, but it’s ironic that the apology itself has come under criticism. In fact, in an election year in America, such an apology was never on the sheet. This was expressed many times to Pakistani officials in several meetings held on the subject of reopening of the routes. After apology, much rumpus has been created over the wordings of apology issued by Hillary Clinton. The use of the word ‘sorry’ for the second time in the statement comes where the US secretary says: “We are both sorry for losses suffered by both our countries in this fight against terrorists,” where ‘both’ refers to herself and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar! Many observers have been critical of Khar’s inclusion in the apology.

Moreover, in order to craft a justification for the opening of the routes, a bizarre reason was advanced and wholly unsupported affirmations were given by the government, which have widely been questioned. It is said that Pakistan cannot afford to confront forty-nine member countries of NATO. And that the decision to withdraw the facility has rendered Pakistan diplomatically isolated. However research shows that 33 NATO countries in Afghanistan have less than 1,000 soldiers, it means the Pakistani blockade did not affect them. More surprisingly, out of the 33, 16 European countries have less than 100 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The Brief proves that NATO member countries were almost unmoved by Pakistan’s blockade of US military supplies. None of the NATO countries was desperate to engage Pakistan to restore the container transport facility.  The only country that was desperate to engage Pakistan to restore the supply routes was the United States because the blockade affected its own military. Hence Pakistan did not confront forty-nine nations or risk international isolation in closing NATO supply routes, Islamabad faced only one Washington!


Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf highlighted the importance of this decision in the light of the withdrawal of NATO and ISAF forces from Afghanistan and its ramifications on regional peace. However, The US failed to create conditions for end-game despite three troop surges and increased CIA drone attacks. American withdrawal from Afghanistan cannot be executed without Pakistani strategic cover. The necessity of relationship favors Pakistan where the US needs Islamabad more than ever to get out and refocus on new threats in Asia-Pacific.  Besides, it is only US concerned about Afghanistan war because the war in Afghanistan is unpopular in Europe due to environment of ongoing financial turmoil and shrinking defense budgets. Newly elected French President during his visit to Afghanistan announced troops’ withdrawal at the end of 2012, ahead of NATO’s timetable of 2014. In sum, war in Afghanistan is an American war and not European. With regards to isolation, the road to peace in Afghanistan passes through Pakistan so how come Pakistan be made irrelevant given its ability to muster strong regional alliances independent of US.

It has been asserted that decision has been taken in the best of country interest; however it is not clear if any major gains are to be achieved for Pakistan. As things stand, Pakistan will not be charging the US any fee barring the commercial costs of clearing and transporting the shipping containers. The way the United States and NATO have been allowed to transport their goods without any charge is highly regrettable and cannot be justified in any way. Pakistan was not asking for any undue favour, it is well known that movement of heavy containers was damaging its road infrastructure and it is logical to demand a fair compensation for that loss. Similarly, no one is mandated to take such a vital decision of showering favors to others at the cost of the interests of the country. Anyhow, the damage has been done but it would be in the fitness of things if our authorities take up the issue of damage to our infrastructure separately with the United States. It is not clear whether Pakistan is going to get some gain from this decision but it is sure that Pakistan’s decision to reopen ground supply routes on its border with Afghanistan will allow the US Defense Department to save tens of millions of dollars transporting material in and out of Afghanistan, as confirmed by a senior Pentagon spokesman as well. Navy Capt. It is estimated that use of the reopened routes will save $70 million to $100 million per month.

Thousands protest reopening of the NATO supply routes but how such protest can be of some use now. This should have been done before reopening of supply routes to force authorities to reopen routes on some advantageous conditions. These protests should have done much before to demand a written apology and written agreement between Pakistan and US before reviewing relations between two states. Reopening of supply routes is not the main concern, the real concern is that with the right mix of diplomacy and media outreach, Pakistan could have put ties with US on mutual interests. We are wrong that reopening supply routes is an issue, contrary correcting flaws in our ties with Washington is the real issue.


Pakistan was on the right track and things should have been settled down on mutual interests. However if Pakistani nation raises voice for interests of Pakistan, US claims that such voices are result of prevailing anti-Americanism in Pakistan. By this assertion about anti-Americanism, US officials try to put Pakistan on the defensive. Nevertheless symbols of American culture, like music, movies, McDonald’s, American brand stores, are all the rage deny the hues of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, Pakistani nation just want relations on mutual interest.

It is the test of Pakistani diplomacy to ensure peace, economic development, sustainable economic growth, global status and security through realizing the regional integration of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia void of any outside influence. Pakistan should continue and upgrade its current posture of keeping US aware of its national interest and integrity while backing it up by this vision to remain relevant and play an influential role in global politics. Pakistan authorities need to move very diplomatically, dynamically and not dubiously. A very active role in international arena should be played but by keeping Pakistan’s interests at top priority. (ENDS)

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