Sequel to reopening of NATO supply
Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
Sequel to the NATO supply restoration by Pakistan, there has been many debates about its positive and negative impacts. The Government feels that resumption is in the best interest of Pakistan, whereas, all religious parties are protesting against this reopening.
These religious-political groups under the banner of Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) are organising rallies all over the country. The opposition under PML (N) is apparently opposing the decision, indeed for the public consumption. Practically, they are part of the decision.
Indeed, under global system, where globalization is the order of the day, no country can afford diplomatic isolation. Pakistan, owing to its location, has been relevant to the international community throughout its history. During the period of cold war, though it has been more close to the Western bloc 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.
First time in its history, Pakistan dared to say no to US and West. After the incident of Salala, it stopped NATO supplies for almost seven months, despite the US pressure and fear of diplomatic isolation. Its stand on the issue was principled and it remained steadfast throughout. Indeed, the Salala was a national issue and Pakistani nation resisted all sorts of pressure so 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 it. 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 principled 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 which comprises of distinguished MPs from all political parties debated the issue 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 relations 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.
Sherry Rehman, Pakistani Ambassador to US, has played an important role, during the process of reconciliation. In her interview with CNN, 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 emphasised that we have resumed the supply route without any additional fee that means that Pakistan is committed to peace and cooperation towards its western neighbour and international community. In fact, "We are not going into an architecture of levies or transit fee that other countries do charge and may continue to charge. "For us, it is a commitment for stabilizing Afghanistan and it's our very major contribution to (establishing) peace in the region."
Reopening of the supply route is a positive gesture by Pakistan. Now US and EU countries must reciprocate. Opening of the route despite the opposition of masses is a big risk, Government has taken. 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 scholars, and the academic community have 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.
Rather strengthening its bases in Afghanistan, it is expected that with the opening of the GLOCs, NATO and US will speed up their withdrawal from Afghanistan. While respecting the Pakistani sovereignty, US should reduce drone attacks on Pakistan. It should pay back the entire balance amount, it owes to Pakistan on account of CSF and as promised in KLL. Most of the payments are held up since last almost a year. Besides, US can be persuaded for the improvement of road communication between Pakistan and Afghanistan.