For a fistful of dollars, America and Pakistan wrangle

May 22, 2012

Pakistan’s relationship with the United States can’t get more transactional than the prolonged negotiations over restoration of the Pakistani supply route for NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, according to leaked accounts of so-called private negotiations, is demanding $5000 as transit fee for allowing trucks to use the two most obvious routes into landlocked Afghanistan, blocked since November when two dozen Pakistani soldiers were killed in an U.S. air strike from Afghanistan. The United States which apparently paid about $250 for each vehicle carrying everything from fuel to bottled water all these years is ready to double that, but nowhere near the price Pakistan is demanding for its support of the war. It also wants an apology for the deaths of the soldiers but America has stopped short of that, offering regret instead.

The two countries will likely reach a compromise, probably sooner than later. But the whole image of so-called allied nations involved in grubby negotiations about trucking fees while there is a disastrous war going on – and leaking details of those talks – tells you how destructive the relationship has become. You would think Pakistan and the United States would try and figure how to prevent incidents such as the air strike near the Afghan-Pakistan that led to the closure of the supply route in the first place. Imagine another strike of that kind and the impact it would have on an already inflamed nation, weak as it may be. Instead negotiations went down to the wire ahead of the NATO summit in Chicago over how many more dollars Pakistan can make as a conduit for a war that has turned it into a battlefield itself.

And America, playing just as hardball, is refusing to give any quarter even though it is paying quite a high price to transport the supplies by a combination of air and land through a northern route into Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. In any case, higher trucking fees in the closing stages of the war, can only be a drop in the vast amount America spends on its military – more than the next four countries put together.

Like a marriage gone sour, it seems to draw the worst in each country. Pakistan got a last minute invite to the NATO summit in Chicago, even though it has been a key player in its war in Afghanistan but its presence seemed to only highlight its isolation. President Barack Obama wouldn’t hold talks with President Asif Ali Zardari, who arguably is just as important to his path out of Afghanistan as Afghan President Hamid Karzai whom he met. Worse, Obama thanked all the countries that had helped NATO in its war in Afghanistan including the Central Asian nations through which supplies are being routed at the moment, but not Pakistan through which the bulk of supplies were transported all these years, save for the current six-month halt.

For a proud nation of 180 million people, the image of its president bounding across the hall to shake hands with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while Karzai, the head of a nation long considered a poor cousin, confers with Obama, must rankle further. Some people back home may argue, in retrospect, that Pakistan might have been better off staying away from the meeting. The worry is Zardari, still the consummate survivor, may have given the hardliners another weapon as he heads back from Chicago with little to show for.



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“Pakistan’s relationship with the United States can’t get more transactional than the prolonged negotiations over restoration of the Pakistani supply route for NATO troops in Afghanistan.e a mercenary always a mercenary.

Once a mercenary always a mercenary

Posted by gautambudhu | Report as abusive

First ask Pakistan to apologize to the world for hosting OBL for 6 years…….!!!!!!!!!
Previously, begging by Pakistan was very discrete but now a days they have gone very open. And that also at international forums, very openly they beg for money. Sometimes, it seems that India is only a pretext, actually it is for money they are creating all the problems for the whole world……..This country can never correct itself.

Posted by FunnyWorld | Report as abusive

When you do not want to sell, you attach a high price tag to discourage. We have provided 11 years free service and now we are saying use the northern route.
History is about to repeat itself.
Russians withdrawal was from northern route and Americans with drawal shall also be from same northern route.
American will forget Afghanistan as they did before and Afghanistan is expected to revert back to same old state that it once was. Good old neighbour !!!

Posted by Facetruth | Report as abusive

I think US can bring their supplies to the closest possible sea area (to a point possible in the international waters) and from there fly out directly into the Afghanistan. They do not need the route. It would work out much cheaper than $5000 per truck…

Posted by Sridhar-Chennai | Report as abusive

I think US can bring their supplies to the closest possible sea area (to a point possible in the international waters) and from there fly out directly into the Afghanistan. They do not need the route. It would work out much cheaper than $5000 per truck…

Posted by Sridhar-Chennai | Report as abusive

Recently USA increased visa fees for India / Pakistan visitors to 300% more of the prior fees.
Nobody objected as it is USA’s right to do that ( Even it is painful for the Asian Visitors) !!! Every country has the right to increase their fees….SO I DO NOT UNDERSTAND…Why PAKISTAN could not have the right to charge FEES ,as much as they want and what ever amount they want to charge !!!!!!!!!!!! SO NO MORE DOUBLE STANDARDS !!!!!!!

Significant progress could be made toward resetting the relationship between our countries if the U.S. were to:
•Finally apologize for the battlefield deaths at Salalah.
•Reimburse the Coalition Support Funds — U.S. repayments to Pakistan for the cost of battling terrorism — owed to Pakistan, a very small part of the $78 billion that Pakistan has lost on account of the war against extremism since 2001.
•Increase the sharing of counterterrorism intelligence to assist our military in combating extremism.
•Cease the controversial drone operations that violate our sovereignty and the norms of international law.
•Shift to a policy of trade not aid by providing enhanced access to U.S. markets for Pakistan’s exports.

America may not be aware that our successful (and costly) effort to clear thousands of terrorists from Swat, Bajaur and Mohmand has been undermined by militants who now find sanctuary in eastern Afghanistan from which they continuously attack our civilians and our soldiers. Despite the enormous efforts taken and huge casualties suffered, Pakistan’s efforts are in vain if NATO cannot provide the anvil to Pakistan’s hammer.
The threat to Pakistan is real and constant. The daily attacks shatter lives on a level we could never have imagined before 2001. Each military offensive launched in our tribal areas results in immediate attacks on our schools, hospitals, markets and religious shrines across our nation. Yet we are resilient. We continue the fight.

Posted by MATRIX786 | Report as abusive

“”ISLAMABAD – National Highway Authority (NHA) on Tuesday informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the NATO supply route to Afghanistan via Pakistan has damaged the road infrastructure worth Rs 100 billion in the country during last 10 years.
They further informed the PAC that Pakistan has not received anything in this regard from NATO containers during last 10 years (still awaiting nominal amount charged clearance ) but now the Ministry of Communications had proposed levying charges from NATO trucks and containers passing through Pakistan to Afghanistan in future.””

Posted by MATRIX786 | Report as abusive

1 racist comment. And another from a hawkish Pakistani who thinks that the USA is like the USSR.

I have long maintained that economics will finish Pakistan. And here’s proof. For all the politicking over transit rights, NATO is more than willing to bypass Pakistan while spending more, just to make a statement. It’s Pakistan that needs the dough. Not NATO that needs the transit rights.

And it gets better. Hawkish Pakistanis gleefully looking at economic problems in the West should take a look at what happened to Asia in 2008-2009.

Pakistan will cave. Either that or the world will finally find out if Paksitanis are really willing to eat grass like they’ve so proudly (and loudly) proclaimed for so long.

For all the talk about cutting back on aid, let’s not forget that the US Senate still voted for over a billion in aid to Pakistan for 2012. Could Pakistan survive without such American largesse? Maybe. But would Pakistanis (particularly the young) like to live in a country without the economic benefits of American aid and trade rights largely secured by American diplomacy? That’ll be an interesting test. Particularly in an era where China might be seeing a massive slowdown, the Euro is facing major headwinds and Americans are in no mood to keep paying for pampering duplicitous Pakistanis. The only economy rebounding now is that of the US.

They bite the hand that feeds them. Time will tell if that’s actually a wise move.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

“For a proud nation of 180 million people, the image of its president bounding across the hall to shake hands with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while Karzai, the head of a nation long considered a poor cousin, confers with Obama, must rankle further.”

When you are the client state of an empire, you get treated like one. Simple as that. The Pakistanis constantly fail to grasp this lesson. Pakistan is only important to the US, so far as US national interests are concerned. When they start demanding $5000 per jingle truck, do they really think they’ll be treated like an ally?

They thought they could strut and bully the major powers of the world? Laughable. And even more hilarious is watching Pakistan slowly make the same mistakes with China too. Having failed to learn their lesson, they’re slowly working on becoming China’s lapdog. They actually believe Beijing will be a better master than Washington. Apparently, they don’t get the idea, that dogs will never get to equal their masters.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive


The world is about to abandon you. Now is the time to look at your brothers to the East. You left us because of the selfish power craze of some politicians and loathe us because of a myth built and maintained by your military rulers. You are misguided. This is the time to patch up with India and move on. We need to be good neighbors. That will put an end to all problems that are haunting all of us. We Indians have looked at the path of growth and know well now that it brings a better life and future. You can surely exist as a nation. But we can do trade, exchange arts and culture and become amicable neighbors. That is the only way out for your country. We are not green eyed, horn headed monsters. You have been misled into believing something that does not exist. It is time you all woke up and forged friendship with us. What we seek is not dominance. All we seek is peace and friendly neighbors. Everything else has been tried by your hawks and failed. It is time to drop the mistrust and come back to our fold. No one in India wants to merge with your country. You can keep it. We just need to be good neighbors. That is all. Let us see if you can prop your leaders in that direction.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

The talibans are also planning to send their main delegation to Alcapone city to thank the yanks for their combat mission in Afghanistan, including their marines actualy pinkling on dead bodies.

No other uniformed soldier has ever stooped this low. The talibans are no loger proud of defeating such type of uniformed soldiers.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive


Hilary clinton is simply reminding the Pakistan President about the Pakistani mangoes which were promised to her in her last visit and which she has not yet been received by her.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

History will repeat itself, the Afghan resistance with covert Pakistani support will defeat the US. Another super power will withdraw after 11 years of futile war. From here on, Pakistan must not step back, rather charge above US$10K for every container shipment. Lets see if the dogs are willing to pay us $10K/container or continue to route supplies from the north.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

The US deserves nothing less than a humiliating defeat in afghanistan and a bloody nose, be ready for it. Even $5000 per truck will not save you now. Its over. And if you think US c

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

The US deserves nothing less than a humiliating defeat in afghanistan and a bloody nose, be ready for it. Even $5000 per truck will not save you now. Its over. And if you think US c

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

*And if you think US can attack Pakistan, remember Pakistan has both nukes and a ballistic missile capability. Have a nice evening.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Pak threat with Nukes in a multi-polar nuke world is very different from a nuke threat in a bi-polar US-USSR cold-war Era. If Pak/any country nukes any other country, the aggressor will be annihilated. In the worst case, if US pak/any country nukes US first, US has a well-defined, organized, and disciplined mechanism to clean up. But, that that aggressor will be annihilated. Keep in mind that US is the only country with Fusion Nukes that are 1000 times more powerful than Fission Nukes. Fusion Nuking and annihilating a small country lets say like Pak – may finally boil down to a max of 10bombs/10 fighter-jets-trips which should be a piece of cake for Af-Iraq exp. pilots.

Posted by AlaskaEagle | Report as abusive

Ah Umair,

Good ol’ Umair. You still don’t get it. Your nukes are irrelevant. Their only use is as an asset that you can proliferate to get hard currency.

You still don’t get what I said. I have always said that the West will not need to fire a single shot to destroy Pakistan. They merely have to stop the pogey to you. If Zardari demands $10 000 per truck, no big deal, the supplies will go through the North.

As for the “humiliating defeat” that you and your other mentally ill fellow travellers (like our chotu malik here) keep pining for….not going to happen. The absolute worst case scenario when the West leaves is civil war in Afghanistan. Soooo basically, it’ll be exactly what it’s always been….some humiliating defeat. That’s bad for Afghans. But it’s cheap for us. At a few billion a year (shared by all of NATO), it’ll be a pretty cheap war to run. The West could run this for generations. Now tell me, does Pakistan have the funds to keep the Taliban going without US aid? All while still obsessing over an economically strong India that is growing at about ten times the rate of Pakistan in absolute terms? Oh and don’t forget, there’s still problems in Balochistan, FATA, Khyber Pakhtunwa, etc. They cost money too. And those tens of millions of poor Punjabis and Sindhis, they kinda get upset when they don’t get fed either.

Nobody is going to attack Pakistan. Don’t worry about it. Your generals will hand over the nukes themselves the minute that they are told their houses and bank accounts in the UK, US, Canada, Europe are getting seized. LOL. You really think they care that much about Pakistan. Heck, the way they drink, most of them barely care about Islam. Every senior Pakistani officer I have ever met has a retirement plan that involves a flat in London or a house in Virginia. If the actually cared, your country might have higher literacy, higher life expectancy, a better economy, etc. Like I said, stay intransigent and we’ll soon find out if Pakistanis actually mean what they say whey they talk about eating grass. If you have ever left your air conditioned flat in Pindi, that’s actually a scenario many Pakistanis face right now. We’ll see how tough you are when there’s no roti on your plate.

Remember the 90s when Pakistan was so desperate for hard currency that they had to fire up the AQ Khan network? Well this time nobody is going to turn a blind eye like the Americans did the last time (upsetting not just India….but also the rest of the West). Well this time, most Pakistanis won’t be getting visas to go anywhere. And no sane company with even an inkling of intellectual property will hire a Pakistani…two generation removed. Indians can work at NASA on fellowships. Pakistanis won’t be allowed to clean a bathroom with a two block radius of any official building in the West.

I have a Pakistani-Canadian friend who I serve with, who lost his security clearance for 6 months. He was born and raised in Canada. Too bad his parents were from Peshawar. Thankfully for him, the Base Commander intervened to get it back. His offence? He’s a dental officer and he spends two weeks of his vacation every year doing free dental work for poor kids in Peshawar. He’s barely Pakistani. Speaks broken urdu, eat’s rotis and Qeemah regularly. That’s about it. But the mere act of going to Peshawar every year red flagged him. He’s learned his lesson. Hasn’t been back to Pakistan since. Poor kids. He is the best dentist I know. So you see, Pakistanis, even wealthy chubby ones like yourself who sit in air conditioned flats eating halwa and jelabis while trying to act all patriotic (your life is nothing like the average Pakistani) claiming you are enlightened and moderate are persona non grata in most of the West…really the world (nobody wants to import extremism either). Get used to the idea. Pakistan is going to be North Korea soon enough. Kim Jong Il starved a million of his own. I wonder how many Pakistanis the Pakistan Army is willing to sacrifice. I suggest you start taste testing grass now.

I’m sure you’ll have some moment of schadenfreud when NATO leaves Afghanistan. Enjoy it. The day after that your struggles will begin. No more US aid. No more preferential treatment on trade deals. And nobody will have to pretend that we have to “balance” India and Pakistan relations (like we actually mean it). The West will write off Pakistan as the third world backwater that it is (the Somalia of South Asia) and they’ll trade with India and sell India whatever they want. And the Chinese? They might sell you all their second hand hardware (you Pakistanis are used to hand-me downs), but they won’t give you anything for free or give you free money (all that hubub about US conditions for aid will seem like a dream). And they won’t tolerate Pakistani Generals padding Swiss or Cayman bank accounts either. Nor will they won’t tolerate you attacking one of their biggest emerging markets: India.

So to sum up. No “humiliating” defeat unless you think civil war in Afghanistan that might destabilize Pakistan too is some big defeat for the US. They got Bin Laden and are wrapping up AQ. International isolation for Pakistan. Severe economic consequences for Pakistan. The US? They get to save billions on the war in Afghanistan and aid to Pakistan. It will help them focus domestically and they’ll balance the books pretty quickly. Some “humiliation”.

Posted by True.North. | Report as abusive


One more thing. All those nukes and ballistic missile capabilities…

I’m curious why they couldn’t stop a half dozen Blackhawks from taking out a high-value Pakistani asset a few blocks from the PMA?

Oh, and can you please let us know when they take down a drone? I thought you guys were all upset about the drone attacks. All those nukes and a BMD system and you can’t stop a 19-year old kid who cut his chops playing xBox from taking out a target, sitting at a workstation in Virginia?

Posted by True.North. | Report as abusive

The USA will be more than willing to pay Mr Zardari even $10,000 a truck to use the Pakistan highways. The USA does no longer want the supply route, but the escape route to pull out more than100,000 marines with their equipment with the proviso that Pakistan military provides the security!

The world is about to see the repeat of the Vietnam syndrom. Frane does not want to be part of this fiasco, and are puling out pronto!

Re Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive