The work here is not done
The Pentagon and White House have finally yielded to the State Department’s pleadings. With Clinton expressing ‘deepest regrets’ over the Salala incident and Pakistan agreeing to open the Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs), a major irritant in the otherwise rocky relations between the US and Pakistan has finally been removed. The seven month long standoff cost both sides heavily, though it was much easier for the super power to bear the $1bn extra financial burden accumulated on account of transporting goods and equipment to Afghanistan through the longer Central Asian route. Those in Pakistan who decided to block the traffic had miscalculated Nato’s ability to tide over its difficulties. Another miscalculation in early spring led Islamabad to ask the White House not to issue the apology because the Pakistani parliament was in the middle of its review of bilateral relationship. After the April attacks in Kabul on Nato forces, linked to the N Waziristan based Haqqani network, Washington took the apology off the table. A cash-strapped Pakistan had to suffer badly as payments under the Coalition Support Fund were withheld. Meanwhile Congressional committees threatened to cut off aid to Pakistan. The blocking of the Nato traffic meanwhile had put Pakistan at odds with more than 40 countries with troops in Afghanistan whose supplies were affected. The US administration is expected to ask the Congress to reimburse Pakistan about $1.2 billion.
The reopening of the GLOCs will only lower the temperature but not mend the relations. That Pakistan and the US have to fight a resourceful and tenacious common enemy requires close cooperation in other areas now. Pakistan cannot afford to miscalculate again as it would have to fight the militant hordes singlehandedly once the Nato troops leave in 2014. There is an urgent need therefore to overcome differences over sanctuaries on both sides of the Durand Line, cross-border attacks by extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan, US drone strikes and holding talks with the Taliban.
The decision to reopen the GLOCs was taken in close consultation with the military high command. It was first discussed at the DCC before being approved by the cabinet. The TTP has announced that it would target the Nato trucks. The DPC which acts as the TTP’s political wing is threatening to launch civil disobedience to stop the Nato convoys. Hamid Gul , one of its leaders, has vowed to take to roads to stop the Nato supplies. It is now for the military establishment to stand by the civilian government to effectively resist the pressure.
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