US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has revealed that the government of Pakistan will reopen routes crucial to the supply of NATO forces fighting the war in Afghanistan. The routes were closed on the back of the accidental killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers last November.
That incident caused a great deal of friction between the two countries, and supply lines to troops in Afghanistan have remained closed, making the logistical realities of carrying out a war in Afghanistan a much more difficult problem to solve. Today’s announcement will be well received by Nato’s high command.
Clinton said that Pakistan would not charge the alliance for use of the supply routes, meaning a return to the system that had been in play before the troubles late last year. The people of Paakistan, however, may not be as enamoured with the return to the status quo.
A recent Pew Research poll conducted in the country revealed some shocking facts about the view citizens had of the United States. Just 12% of respondents saw the United States favourably. Slightly more, 13%, saw Al Qaeda, the world’s most prominent terrorist organization, as favourable.
America’s government orchestrates an uneasy set of agreements in Central Asia in order to promote stability and prosperity, and to keep the wars in the region winnable. In Pakistan that means ignoring the opinions of the country’s populace, and negotiating with the government.
The country keeps a hold on Pakistan’s government through the payment of billion in military aid each year. The loss of that grant would severely weaken the country’s armed forces, and therefore government control. That is something that can be ill afforded in Islamabad.
There is little wiggle room for wither side in the arrangement, but recent action has show Pakistan to be the partner with more power. Despite the military aid, the nation closed its supply routes to the allied forces. A resolution took months to put into place.
In order to reach that resolution America’s secretary for State had to bow and apologize for the accidental deaths of Pakistan’s soldiers. There may also have been something else offered to the country’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, in order to ensure agreement.
What went on behind closed doors is impossible to speculate on successfully. The United States will continue to play an active and powerful role in the region, Pakistan’s agreement today has ensured that. The reopening of those supply lines will make the war in Afghanistan a much easier one to fight.
Pakistan is one of the most important allies tot he United States worldwide. It is patent, however, that the country’s people would rather be released from their yoke. The power of the military aid, which only 8% of citizens see as having a positive impact, is too much to be overcome by popular movements, it appears.
Today’s announcement will relieve those involved in Afghanistan’s war, but most of Pakistan will be angered by it. The United States is walking a tight rope in central Asia. A single wrong move could result in a plunge.