With restoration of NATO supply
Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
In this highly globalized world, the diplomatic isolation for any nation is a death in itself. Indeed, owing to its location, Pakistan has been relevant to the international community throughout in its history. During the period of cold war, though it has been more close to the Western block under United States, yet it maintained its relevance for both the Eastern and Western blocs. Unfortunately, its Western allies have used the Pakistani geopolitics for their own interest without giving any worthwhile benefit to it. Rather, they did not hesitate to harm Pakistan, whenever it resisted fulfilment of their ultimate objectives. Killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26, 2011, by US and NATO forces during aerial strikes on Salala Military post was one such event, in the recent history.
Pakistan dared to stop NATO supply thereafter for over seven months, despite the US pressure and fear of diplomatic isolation. Its stand on the issue was principle and it remained steadfast throughout. Indeed, the Salala was a national issue and Pakistani nation proved that, NATO and U.S must realize their blunder of attacking the Pakistani military post, indeed, violating the Pakistani sovereignty. US apology on the incident after seven months indeed, became a compulsion for itself. Its supplies through the Northern route were becoming extremely difficult and expensive. Furthermore, the move back of heavy equipment of NATO, and US in the wake of likely drawdown needed the shorter route through Pakistan.
For the assistance of international community, Pakistan has opened the route through its soil, which is an indication of its cooperation for the collective benefit of the globe. Indeed, it never becomes a hurdle, except asking for the apology, which US should have done, consequent to its deliberate aggression. According to a well known writer, “US was ready to convey its ‘regrets’ over the Salala incident as early as February this year, compensate the families of the martyred soldiers and officers and make some high-profile promises and financially beneficial packages to Pakistan as long we agreed to bury our anger, along with our dead, and moved on.”
In his opinion, perhaps, Pak Army did not agree to this. The writer has his own views, but the fact is that, US attitude has been very offensive and uncompromising throughout, until the apology by Secretary Clinton on July 3, 2012. After the incident, Pak Army took a principle stand over the losses and violation of its sovereignty with the Government of Pakistan. Since the issue was national, rather between two armies, therefore, Khakis were not in a position to compromise. It is unfair to say that, on the issues of national security, “Those in Islamabad must either move in concert with Rawalpindi or be ready to move out.” Indeed, after seeking details of the incident from Pak Army high command, the Federal Government handed over the issue to the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security. The committee comprises of distinguished MPs from all political parties debated the issues from all aspects and formulated recommendations, later passed by the Parliament for the future course of action.
It is indeed wrong, but easy to put blame on military for anything happening in the country. I would rather say that, it is a media game of misleading the general masses that anything happening in Pakistan is being done by Army or else, Army is not allowing the civil governments to exercise its true role. Media anchors should play positive role and true projection of events, rather creating hate and misperception about an institution, responsible for the security of Pakistan.
The incumbent Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is on record saying prior to according sanction for the resumption of supply line for the NATO and US that, because of stoppage of supply route, Pakistan’s relation with over forty eight countries are being affected. Indeed, the political leadership decided that, now it is about time to open the NATO supply, after a formal US apology. Surely, the Military commanders had to follow the decisions of political leadership as per the constitution of Pakistan.
In the entire process of this reconciliation, Ms Sherry Rehman, Pakistani Ambassador to US has played an important role. In her interview with CNN, Ms Rehman said that, “Today and yesterday mark a historic turn in the relationship. We have been able to, I think, turn towards building on this opportunity and halt the downward spiral (in Pak-US ties).” She also emphasise that, we have resumed the supply route without any additional fee that mean that Pakistan is committed to peace and cooperation towards its western neighbour and international community.
Now once the supply has been resumed and there are hopes that, there would be improvement of relations between Pakistan and United States, the media, the scholar, and the academic community has a role to put across and pursue the Pakistani interests to international community and US. The world must be made to realise the price Pakistan has paid during this so-called war on terror. The nation has to act in harmony without creating a dissent between its institutions. A united point of view will strengthen our national standing.
It is expected that with the opening of the GLOCs, NATO and US will speed up their withdrawal from the Afghanistan. We should put pressure on US for the reduction of drone attacks on Pakistani territory. Pakistan should ask for the balance of payments, blocked since last almost a year. Besides, US can be persuaded for the improvement of road communication between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Surely, the armed forces of Pakistan should support the decision of the Government in true letter and spirit.