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NATO supply opening; think logically

06 July, 2012

By Amina Mazhar


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On the 4th of July 2012 the cabinet endorsed the decision of the DCC to reopen the NATO supplies that were closed for the last seven months when the US apologized for the Salala check post attack, which resulted in the martyrdom of our troops. This decision can have far reaching consequences on the fate of Pakistan; negative and positive.

The parliament had initially launched a whole list of negotiations for the US to accept before it agrees to open the NATO supply again, which included an apology for the Salala check post attack, a complete cease on the drone attacks in the northern areas of Pakistan and prompt payments at international rates for the use of country's infrastructure. So far only a personal sorry for the Salala attack has been forwarded by the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, rest of the demand remains unconsented to.

This decision needs to be eyed critically and with logic instead of emotions. It was important for guarding Pakistan's sovereignty in many ways, whether they are military, economical, political or societal. If we look at the benefits that this decision brings to Pakistan, the first and foremost would be avoiding isolation in the comity of nations. Pakistan is already facing international aggression on the issue of terrorism, keeping the ban on the NATO supplies would be provoking the 49 nations that are a part of NATO to turn hostile towards Pakistan. The US wants to leave Afghanistan not in a position of weakness but in a position that shows that they have achieved their objective of controlling the Taliban in the country. For that the NATO supply is essential to strengthen the Afghan National Army that can prevent the inevitable onslaught of the Taliban after the US leaves the country. If Pakistan had approached the issue with rigidity, it would have been a target of the US backlash.

Pakistan is greatly dependent on the US for its economy as most of our export money comes from textile exports to Europe and US. If Pakistan had continued to refuse to reopen the NATO supplies, the US might have stopped Pakistani exports and also might have persuaded the other European countries to do so as well, crippling Pakistan's economy to a great extent. Other than that the US has a strong position in the UN, they can persuade the UN to impose sanctions on Pakistan that would further dismantle our economy.

Furthermore, the Indus water treaty may also turn out to be a threat to Pakistan as the World Bank has a complete hold of the issue and being US dominated and can easily turn against Pakistan in ways that can cripple our agriculture.

Despite the unrest in FATA Pakistan is also facing a military crisis in one of its provinces; Balochistan where rebel groups are projected to be waging a war for independence from the federation. There is a suspicion that these insurgents are being supported by the Indians and perhaps even the CIA. Recently, the chairman of the US House of Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling upon Pakistan to recognize the Baloch right to self-determination. The US state department resented it by saying that it was a private matter of Pakistan and should be left so. But in the light that Pakistan had continued to refuse to open the NATO supply the US would not have been so supportive of Pakistan on the issue.

All these issues would have been a great threat to Pakistan's stability. By opening the NATO supply we may have to some extent averted these consequences for the time being. This decision may also have some negative impacts as well. Like the fact that from day one Pakistan was pushed into a war that was not its own: the war on terror. Pakistan had always been a US proxy in this war and as a result even the Afghans view us as the cause of it all instead of the US. These sentiments are still prevalent amongst many Afghans. The US is strengthening the Afghan National Army and there is a solid chance that this army will be used against Pakistan in the future. In these times Pakistan needs to take neutral stance on the Afghan issue and opening the NATO supplies again was somewhat contrary to that. The US had agreed that they would withdraw their troops from Afghan territory by 2014. Whereas they have plans of developing new check posts in various areas of Afghanistan by 2024, which means that the drone attacks will continue as such in the future as well.

Other than that, if the US eventually does retire from Afghanistan, then their equipment would be deployed back through routes in Pakistan. There is a chance that it would be used to overcome our country. The reopening of the NATO supplies as a backlash for the government as well as they went against the sentiments of the public and made this decision which may provoke riots and instability, which at the verge of elections is a big blow to the present date government.

It is high time that we view this issue in critical terms. As Pakistanis we need to push away our emotional sentiments and think logically what is best for Pakistan at this moment. We need to foresee a lot of things. Foresight was what Gen Zia ul Haq lacked back in 1979 when he agreed to build those mujahideen camps and helped the US in Afghanistan. He did not foresee that this decision will in end turn against us and we would be the target of the same mujahedeen that we had created at that time. It is Pakistan that is paying the price for the war on terror and no one else. We need to think in terms of what is best for our own country's survival. We need to come to consensus as a nation and protect Pakistan's integrity through properly calculated decisions and moves.

The author is Mass Communication student at NUST, Islamabad.

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