KARACHI: This is with reference to the news item regarding the government demanding $5000 per Nato container for transit through Pakistan. To discover the root of the problem, we have to go back to 2001, when our commando president gave the Americans a blanket approval of all their demands — past, present and future — unconditionally, under his policy of ‘unstinted support’. It is reported that they paid a paltry amount per container for the supply facility. Since then, the Americans have become used to having their way with Pakistan. The PPP government continued its predecessor’s policies and when they did act, (at least apparently), it was too late.
A layman is in no position to declare the rights and wrongs of the government asking for $5000 per container without the necessary data about the cost incurred by Pakistan in transporting them. However, there are hazards in it for Pakistan for which an additional premium akin to a risk insurance premium ought to be added to the actual cost of handling, transportation and security of the containers.
That some Americans are calling it extortion is because they just cannot swallow being dictated to by a government which they regard, at best, as their ‘protege’ and at worst beggars — and corrupt ones at that.
The problem is that these stalwarts (Pakistani leaders) can only be brave against one another. They have no unity vis-a-vis foreign powers and hence no respect in the international community. The question regarding Nato containers is multi-dimensional and any decision taken ought to be done so very carefully. Not because their stance is wrong but because the leaders trying to take a strong decision on the issue have too many weaknesses and too many skeletons in their closets. They are trying to handle this issue the way they handle domestic issues like Lyari and the response to court decisions against them and their corruption scandals.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2012.
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