There is no doubt now that the Pakistan’s decision to open GLOC for NATO supplies can help determine NATO’s future course of action being deliberated in Chicago Summit. Pakistan can become a game-spoiler if her sentiments are not respected. The vibes are that so far Pakistan has proved to be real spoiler of the whole show in the Summit hall; those on Chicago streets are being separately dealt with by American cops. New York Times has reported the fury of President Obama who, according to the story, remained at loggerheads with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, refusing even to meet with him without an agreement on the supply routes, which officials in both countries acknowledged would not be coming soon.
The question is; should Pakistan have been represented by her tainted leaders with no moral authority and public support? He was not treated even at par with the Clown of Kabul. The report suggests that Mr. Zardari has been cut to size who had flown to Chicago with hopes of lifting his stature with a meeting with Mr. Obama. The newspaper reported that Pakistani president was preparing to leave empty-handed as the two countries continued to feel the repercussions of a fatal American airstrike last November, for which Mr. Obama has offered condolences but no apology. Mr. Zardari was, however, allowed to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to discuss the supply routes. This will send a powerfully humiliating message back to Pakistan. To add insult to injury, Mr. Obama and his other tenuous ally in the region, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, huddled together Sunday morning to grapple with stalled reconciliation talks with the Taliban.
In spite of the snub and pressure, Mr Zardari did not give in and apparently sacrificed international limelight to present forcefully Pakistan’s point of view. He may be street-smart and a small-time thug, as dubbed by his opponents, but he did at the Summit what a representative of 180 million people should have done. The gamble that the Americans tried to play has fallen flat, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, due to the fact that Zardari held his ground and did not budge an inch.
American and Pakistani officials expressed optimism last week that an agreement on re-establishing supply routes was imminent. Negotiators were narrowing their differences after three weeks of intense deliberations, they said, and it was hoped that an invitation for Pakistan to attend the summit would engender the good will needed to close the gap between the two sides. The invitation was accepted, and Mr. Zardari arrived in Chicago on Saturday. But a deal on the supply lines remained elusive, and Mr. Obama would not meet with Mr. Zardari without it, American officials said.
The supply lines, through which about 40 percent of NATO’s nonlethal supplies had passed, were closed in late November after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in American airstrikes along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The deaths capped a year of crises between the United States and Pakistan that put immense strain on the two countries’ already fragile relationship.
The failure to strike a deal on the supply routes ahead of the summit injects new tension into the relationship. “When NATO extended the invitation, we thought it would move the Pakistanis off the dime,” a senior American official said. Without the deal, “it’s going to be really uncomfortable” for Mr. Zardari at the summit, which runs through Monday, said the official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the talks.
Deal or no deal on the opening of GLOC for NATO supplies, the relations between Pakistan and the US will never come back to normal. There were signs that the US has already written off its ally of the Bush era. Mr. Obama called off a planned visit to Pakistan last year after the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden. Mr. Obama did telephone Mr. Zardari a few hours after the raid to inform him that Navy Seals had done an incursion into Pakistani territory to kill Bin Laden, and during that conversation Mr. Zardari “spoke with emotion about the fact that these people were associated with the killing of his wife,” Benazir Bhutto, the senior official said.
This emotional appeal is not going to help anymore because Americans are not poor Pakistani audience. Americans see Pakistan as a spoiler of its endgame in Afghanistan and without Pakistan’s opening of the GLOC, NATO leaders will have no clear-cut roadmap for Afghanistan withdrawal. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was invited to the Chicago summit in the hope that an agreement could be reached on the supply routes. But many details still need to be worked out, including the price-per-truck NATO will pay for access to the routes. Zardari has also pressed for a “permanent solution” concerning U.S. drone strikes on suspected militants in Pakistan, which have also killed some civilians. The BBC adds that at the summit, NATO leaders are “expected to endorse plans to hand over combat command to Afghan forces by mid-2013 and seek progress in opening routes for troop withdrawals. They also hope to reach a commitment on who pays how much towards funding Afghan forces after 2014.”
The question is that if Pakistan’s role is so crucial in the Afghanistan’s future and Pakistan wields enormous influence over the major players of the entire game, Taliban, then why American president has chosen to humiliate the entire Pakistani nation by refusing to meet its president and offering a formal apology over Salala demanded by Pakistani Parliament? Is it possible that Americans have been able to reach out to the Taliban without Pakistan’s help and now want to abandon the “bad boy” like they did in 1989? If that be the case, then the endgame is nowhere in sight. If the GLOC is so crucial to NATO, then why Pakistan is being denied its fair price? Is it a fact that the world has stopped taking Pakistani leaders seriously?
- Obama Fails to Settle Pakistan Dispute at NATO Summit (nymag.com)
- At NATO summit, warm welcome for most leaders, but not Pakistan’s (latimes.com)
- Obama snubs Pakistan head over supply routes (sfgate.com)