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جمعرات، 5 جولائی، 2012

NATO Apology accepted

 Pakistan has reopened its transit supply lines to the 130,000-strong NATO-led force in Afghanistan more than seven months after closing them following an American air raid which killed 24 Pakistani troops.

 If the lexicologists have changed the meanings, we may construe America's "sorry" over the Salala massacre as "apology". Still, a quizzical kind of sorry could it only be. The Salala holocaust, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton's statement would have it believed, was the outcome of mistakes by both sides. So we are being branded as part of the massacre of our own soldiers. In so many words she says this stunningly in her statement. Both sides, she notes, "acknowledged the mistakes" that resulted in the tragedy. Who on our side had made this acknowledgement? Well, we wouldn't know. The people have not been told of it by our hierarchs. All we know is that the hierarchs are quite pleased by this American "sorry" and they want it to be celebrated.

And not only have they reopened the overland NATO supply routes but have decided not to charge a penny in fee on the transit of supplies. And this we are being told shows us as a dignified nation. But since these overland routes' closure, the NATO supplies were being received by the US-led occupiers of Afghanistan through the northern distribution network. And they had been paying all the transit and other levies to the countries through which this network passed, costing them additionally some $100 million per month. Should we presume that those countries that include Russia and several Central Asian states were not so dignified, whereas by every reckoning they are very self-respecting nations and far more prosperous than we are?

Who indeed are our hierarchs beguiling? In the run-up to the decision to reopen the blocked overland routes, leaks in the media were speaking that the transit facility would no more be all free and would have to be paid for henceforth. Even figures were being quoted. In fact, so miffed were the Americans at this Pakistani demand that they went out crying foul, deriding and vilifying Pakistan at every conceivable forum and platform. Leading the charge was US defence secretary Leon Panetta. He missed no opportunity to denounce Pakistan, accusing it of "price gouging" and what not and vowing not to let the Pakistanis to "fleece" the United States in any event. Even as they were paying many times more on transiting of NATO supplies through the northern routes, he was not amenable to pay much less to Pakistan.

It was Panetta, of course, who often would say that Pakistanis are demanding $5,000 per container in transit fee. The figures quoted in media leaks sourced to unidentified Pakistani officials were much less. The whole of it is now off the table after Islamabad's decision for these NATO supplies to be all free of transit fee. What is it that has made the Islamabad establishment to change the face so diametrically? Of course, NATO is not just the United States. It is a defence community of 49 nations of the world, a lot of them quite friendly to Pakistan. They indeed are no ingrates either, as is America so appallingly. They are very appreciative of Pakistan's role in the global war against terrorism and recognise fully its tremendous sacrifices in this cause, quite contrary to the accusatory and mischievous stances of the United States.

Not very long ago, a British military commander voiced his anguish on this count publicly. Pakistan, he said, has rendered valuable services in fighting the war against terrorism at tremendous costs to itself. But the moment you speak of it, you get into troubles elsewhere, he said plaintively. He was alluding to the hostile reaction such laudatory utterances about Pakistan's role invariably draw from Washington. Even the European political leadership of NATO, more often than not, is not on the same wave length with America when it comes to Pakistan's contributions. It is both appreciative and thankful.

So this suspension of NATO supplies through our overland routes was certainly hurting the NATO countries, as well, who are both friendly and appreciative of us. Still, our people need to be told frankly and candidly why had the Islamabad establishment to cave in so abysmally to be so generous with the reopening of the ground routes. The establishment must take this very seriously. It should not get blinded by its own staged shows of 'the people's jubilations' over the reopening of the routes. This decision runs drastically counter to the popular sentiment in the country. A very incisive comprehensive briefing at the highest level for the media persons is thus necessarily called for to put across this decision in its proper perspective to the people. Otherwise, the establishment must be prepared for a very severe public backlash.

 Sources>  The Frontier Post

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