Charting the Afghan course: Chicago invite to take NATO supply route

Published: May 12, 2012

Nato Secretary-General says closure of supply routes is a matter of great concern. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Even as the Nato secretary general on Friday hinted that Pakistan may not attend the Chicago summit later this month, Islamabad still expects to participate in the historic gathering to discuss the Afghan endgame.

Pakistan’s optimism stems from the fact that its ongoing negotiations with the United States appear to have made progress.

A senior Pakistani official disclosed that an agreement on the resumption of vital land routes for the Nato forces was expected to be concluded before the Chicago summit.

The final decision is likely to be taken by the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which is scheduled to meet on Monday.

Islamabad’s participation in the key gathering being attended by over 60 world leaders hinges on its decision to reopen supply lines for the western forces stationed in Afghanistan.

Invite linked to Nato supplies

Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also tacitly linked Pakistan’s invitation to the Nato Chicago summit 2012 to the reopening of the supply routes through the country.

“We have invited a number of countries from the region – neighbours of Afghanistan – Central Asian countries and Russia, because they provide an important transit arrangement to the benefit of our operations,” he told a news conference in Brussels.

“But as you also know, our transit routes through Pakistan are currently blocked. So we have to continue our dialogue with Pakistan, with a view to finding a solution to that because that’s really a matter of concern,” he added, without clearly mentioning if Pakistan had been invited to the summit or not.

However, Rasmussen outlined that those countries that either participated in or significantly contributed politically or financially to Nato operations in Afghanistan (Isaf), Kosovo (KFOR) and Libya had been invited to acknowledge their respective roles.

Islamabad reminds Nato of contribution

His statement prompted Pakistan’s foreign ministry to remind Nato/Isaf of Islamabad’s contribution to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is in favour of an independent, sovereign, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. For almost a decade until the Salala incident Pakistan provided free transit to Nato/Isaf,” Foreign Office spokesperson Moazzam Ali Khan told The Express Tribune.

He indicated that Islamabad was willing to attend the Nato summit but would not confirm or deny if a formal invitation had been extended for the purpose.

“We believe peace and stability in the region are vital national interest of Pakistan. We understand the main focus of the Nato summit is Afghanistan,” Khan added.

He went on to point out that even if Pakistan did not go to Chicago, it would continue to play its role for the peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“In recent months Pakistan has also supported a number of efforts towards reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan will continue these efforts to contribute to an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned solution,” he said.

In Pakistan’s interest

Speaking on condition of anonymity, another official said that Pakistan was keen to attend the Nato summit as it would provide an opportunity to put across its point of view for the future of Afghanistan.

“It is not only in our interest that Pakistan should go to Chicago but also in the interest of the United States,” the official remarked.

He said Washington had long been calling for a regional solution to the Afghan problem. “Russia has already announced it is not going to Chicago, China has not been invited and if Pakistan is also kept out, then the whole idea of a regional solution will be defeated,” the official argued.

When contacted, an American diplomat was confident that both sides would be able to resolve their differences before the Nato summit paving way for Pakistan’s participation.

However, he acknowledged that Pakistan’s attendance would depend on whether the six-month-old blockade on the Nato supplies was lifted.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Billoo Bhaya
    May 12, 2012 - 5:28AM

    Where are the oft repeated statements like Pakistan routes are not important and that NDN is where the supplies go through. All BS. Pakistan is the only route through which lethal equipment and fuel went. NATO is practically on its knees. Pakistan is trying to barge in to a party as an uninvited guest. WHY?? Why be desperate?? That’s why Pakistan makes mistakes repeatedly in desperation.

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  • Maria
    May 12, 2012 - 7:35AM

    Pakistan should resolve its dispute over the use of transit routes but ensure that adequate recompense is made for its services the way other neighboring countries are doing. The last dictator Musharraf gave the routes for nothing and committed Pakistan without taking the nation’s legitimate concerns into consideration. Pakistan needs to work together but in a way that the ports, routes and even railways are improved by the the ISAF forces nations who have had 10 years free access.

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  • You Said It
    May 12, 2012 - 8:30AM

    Pakistan asked for its ghairat (which included stopping drone strikes and apology), but seems like we are ready to sell the supply line for the plane ticket to Chicago.

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  • Baba Ji
    May 12, 2012 - 9:46AM

    we don’t want to go to Chicago .. NATO should come to us in Jhelum or Dina for this meeting !!! we need to play it right now … if our leaders understand it !!!!

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  • sohail hussain
    May 12, 2012 - 10:23AM

    As a businessman government policies should support businssses . This policy of not allowing nato supply route will bring down the economy of the country. This is the reason why even Imran Khan is quiet these days. Even he knows Pakistan cant live without US aid and investment. Our pride will bring economc santions upon our country making the poor more poorer.

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  • Naveed Alam Khattak
    May 12, 2012 - 11:05AM

    few days ago they were saying that Pakistani route is not vital for afghan occupation. Now suddenly what happened? Why US, Congress, NATO and everyone associated with afghan war are crying for this route? Why they are using every mean to pressurize Pakistan to open this route? We should not open this route untill US apologize for salala masscare and pay higher prices as advised by the committee for supply.Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    May 12, 2012 - 7:14PM

    It really all boils down to the fact that if you see a politician’s lips moving you know they are telling lies, and Western/U.S. politicians are amongst the best in the business.

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  • j. von hettlingen
    May 13, 2012 - 12:57AM

    What was all the fuss about Islamabad “would not confirm or deny if a formal invitation had been extended for the purpose”. Why should Pakistan be so secretive about whether it would be attending the Summit in Chicago or not? Afghanistan is going to be on top of the agenda. It would a huge mistake that NATO excluded regional keyplayers like China and Russia from the meeting.

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