Pakistan and NATO: On Again, Off Again

Image: ronbosoldier.blogspot.com

Image: ronbosoldier.blogspot.com

Pakistan and NATO have been on the tip of many a person’s tongue recently, and with good reason. Between the NATO summit in Chicago and supply lines in Pakistan, there’s a lot to discuss.

While the South Asian nation scored (or perhaps “ended up with” is a better way to put it) a last-minute invite to the summit in Chicago this weekend, there have been reports at the same time that Pakistan may reopen NATO supply routes into Afghanistan very soon.

The invitation of President Asif Ali Zardari, whose country is not a member, to the NATO summit is an unusual one. Some officials believe the move supports a belief in the strategic importance of including Pakistan in international security talks. Despite Pakistan’s struggles to combat and suppress insurgent activity within its borders, its geographic location makes it an essential part of the equation when it comes to the Afghanistan withdrawal plan.

This is why Pakistan’s decision to close NATO supply routes to Afghanistan after a November border attack left 26 Pakistani soldiers dead was so strategically stifling. Once again allowing the flow of war supplies north into Afghanistan may serve to ease tensions between Washington and Islamabad, but the Pakistanis don’t intend to provide access too easily. If things work out as planned, “Pakistan would reap higher tariffs and a payout of at least $1.3 billion in withheld ‘coalition support funds’ for its contribution to the fight against Islamist militants,” according to the Washington Post.

Though NATO has fallen short of offering a full apology for the deaths of those Pakistani soldiers, the financial benefit from the success of this deal could affect everyone from top Pakistani leaders to common merchants. But they’re not the only ones. Tribal militants who offer convoys protection in exchange for compensation will also cash in. You know what they say: All’s fair in love and war.

Amina Elahi is Divanee.com’s Managing Editor. Check out her blog, where she posts words and images that make her think.