The ghost NATO supplies
Brig (Retd) Said Nazir Mohmand
The Pak-US relations have always been oscillating between two extremes. There are different misnomers attached to this relationship, some vague in perspective and some true in retrospect.
The hug is so deep and strong that Pakistan is oxygenated to be independent of atmospheric oxygen and the kick is so odd to be embarrassing. The synonyms to this relationship could be that of honey and vinegar, pepper and salt, estranged bedfellows, with a description of, friends not masters and on the lighter side a daughter-in-law living with an ever demanding mother-in-law.
The relationship between the allies in the war on terror has gone from bad to worst, since last year May 2 incident where Osama was hunted in the backyard of Pakistan through a unilateral raid by US Navy SEALs in the garrison town Abbottabad. The series of events from Raymond Davis (a CIA operative) sharp shooting in Lahore to the pounding of Salala check post in Mohmand Agency by NATO forces led to an atmosphere of trust deficit, unilateralism and blame game. The so humble gains on a decade long war front were too little to be saleable on the US home front, therefore blame game got currency and the scapegoat available could not have been better than Pakistan. The pride and prestige of both the military and spy agencies got bruised/compromised and their furry provided fuel to the inferno.
Terrorism was linked to the Pakistan foreign policy parameters and attached to ISI as, it’s veritable arm. Taliban brazen attacks in Kabul against high value targets including US embassy were pasted on the Haqqani network in Waziristan. The Pakistan’s nay, to the military operation against Haqqani network was considered as non-cooperation and provision of sanctuary to the arch enemy of US/NATO forces in Afghanistan. The support and cooperation got a severe jolt once Pakistan suspended the NATO supply through Pakistan and abstained from Bonn Conference.
The parliamentary resolution on the terms of re-engagement stretched the time lines, apology on Salala check post became redundant and Taliban mini spring offensive took the wind out of Nato security and intelligence umbrella.
Talks with Taliban were put on the back burner by the American administration and deals with Karzai Government in Kabul were concluded in quick succession. President Obama dashed to Kabul unannounced for security reasons and concluded a strategic partnership agreement with his counterpart President Hamid Karzai during an overnight stay.
The stage has been set for the Chicago conference where more than sixty countries / organizations will participate including all the neighbours / stakeholders in the Afghan imbroglio. Pakistan has been kept out of the loop so far subject to resumption of NATO supplies via Pakistan.
The Pak-US relationship has receded back on the time lines to the pre-9/11 era of economic/military sanctions and diplomatic isolation. The US Congress is on the critical path with a hard/fast push to exert all possible pressure on Pakistan to shape it to their strategic suiting. The Pakistan Parliamentary resolution on the terms of re-engagement has been countered by the US Congress resolution to the contrary. The vital turn in the Pak-US relationship is around the corner which may take an ugly turn if the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan at the pearl of its security and sovereignty are not taken due cognizance and recognition.
As the environments are being shaped around Pakistan by the superpower and its NATO allies in the post-withdrawal Afghanistan, the stacks are high for Pakistan in particular and the region in general. A de-stabilized Pakistan and the region around it will implode beyond the limits of regional frontiers. It is not the time to use coercive diplomacy and keep the carrot on the hold.
The top military commander Gen John Allen of ISAF and his deputies were at odds to untie the key knots at the tripartite forum meeting held at GHQ, Rawalpindi. The fault lines on the major issues remained focused in light of the grim message asking for opening of NATO supplies else face Pentagon sponsored, other set, of options. Though Pakistan military cannot backtrack on the hype risen so high on terms of apology and drones attacks, but the political leadership appears to be opting for the policy of appeasement. The British Government has done enough working on PM of Pakistan during closed door meetings to make him budge on the blocked NATO supplies and fudge on the home front to facilitate the decision. There are chinks in the armour of Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani via their very recent statements, fearing sanctions and the collective weight (crass) of 48 countries.
The prospects of future Pak-US strategic partnership hinges on who blinks first to break the stalemate. The time is getting telescoped on the Chicago conference (May 20-21). The State department, Pentagon and CIA are in unison to put Pakistan in the nut-cracker. They are using the NATO, US-India nexus and Afghanistan platform to tight the noose around Pakistan and reduce it’s relevance to the minimum.
The obvious is clear; NATO supplies will be back on track, Salala forgotten (time barred on apology) and the lollipop of 800 million dollars will fall for the lackeys. Drones shall operate but with mutual coordination and a bit restrained courtesy, face saving. The right wing political parties and the elements/outfit having anti-American agenda may be agitated by the decision and get on to the streets and block the flow of the containers. The chances to exploit the issue as a prelude to the election campaign is also not out of the box reaction. There are ample grounds for the receded violence to re-emerge as is evident from the recent spate of rocket and IEDs attacks in KP and Fata. All these are not good news for Pakistan.
Honour of the nation in general and that of parliament in particular has been bartered at the maximum bid of 1.4 billion dollars. A very pertinent and pricking question the conman man has the right to ask is, were all these pearls of wisdom which the defence and foreign ministers are infusing into the dull brain of the nation not considered while blocking the supplies and drawing the new terms of re-engagement? Pakistan’s relevance has been punctured and shall further be reduced to the size, once the y(NATO/US) withdraw the bulk of their forces in the next year or so. Logistics dependence will reduce and US will tread the strategic course set in the Chicago Conference. President Karzai Government has already been tasked to get ratify the Strategic Cooperation Agreement before the scheduled date of Chicago conference.