Hagel to PM: Lift NATO blockade or risk billions in aid

Published: December 10, 2013

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shake hands during a meeting in Islamabad December 9, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: 

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Pakistani leaders on Monday that if they did not resolve protests stalling some military shipments across the border into Afghanistan, it could be difficult to maintain political support in Washington for an aid programme that has sent billions of dollars to Islamabad, defence officials said.

In response, Hagel received assurances from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that his administration would take ‘immediate action’ to resolve the shipment problem, sources told The Express Tribune. He assured the visiting Pentagon chief that the situation would improve soon and Pakistan would ensure smooth exit of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

An official statement issued from the prime minister’s office didn’t say the issue was discussed in Hagel’s meeting with Nawaz. However, the US Embassy in Islamabad confirmed that the Pentagon  chief conveyed Washington’s concerns. “Secretary Hagel raised the importance of keeping the ground supply routes out of Afghanistan open,” the embassy said in a statement.

Since 2002, Pakistan has received more than $16 billion of security assistance and reimbursements, according to the US Embassy. Pakistan’s determined effort to root out terrorism and militancy on its own territory is essential for creating a stable environment for promoting economic growth and prosperity, it said.

The key supply line at Torkham border has been blocked by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the ruling party in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, since November 24 in protest against the CIA-led drone campaign in the tribal areas. Just last week, the US stopped the shipments from Torkham due to worries about the safety of the truckers.

The Associated Press quoted the defence officials as saying that Hagel described a political reality on Capitol Hill that could complicate support for the billions of dollars of aid Pakistan now receives. It was Hagel’s intent to try and pre-empt any problems with the aid, said the officials who spoke to reporters in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the private meetings publicly on the record.

The US defence secretary had a whirlwind tour of Pakistan in a move to further repair what has been a strained and sputtering relationship between Washington and Islamabad. Interestingly, he refused to commit an end to the controversial drone campaign in the tribal regions, sources said.

The Pakistani leader conveyed his country’s concerns over US drone strikes, stressing that “drone strikes were counter-productive to our efforts to combat terrorism and extremism on an enduring basis”, says the statement from the PM office.

However, Hagel was noncommittal. He said the Obama administration was confident that the CIA, which operates remotely-piloted aircraft, has yet to take out some high-value targets in the tribal regions, sources told The Express Tribune.

Unsurprisingly, the US Embassy didn’t say the drone issue was discussed in the Hagel-Nawaz meeting. It only said that the Pentagon chief’s trip was an opportunity to advance a broad, robust, and continuous Pak-US dialogue on topics of shared concern, including security and stability in the region.

Secretary Hagel and the Premier Nawaz agreed to work together to strengthen Pak-US relations and advance the shared interest of a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan and the region. They reaffirmed the importance of Pak-US strategic partnership for peace and stability in the region.

They noted the substantial progress made in the bilateral relationship in recent months and acknowledged that the recent high-level exchanges, including the prime minister’s visit to Washington, meetings of the Working Groups on Energy, Defence and Security, Non-proliferation and Disarmament, have greatly helped in building trust and strengthening the relationship.

The two leaders also reviewed the current state of bilateral defence and security cooperation and explored ways for further expanding cooperation in this important area of the relationship. In this regard, the prime minister stressed the importance of establishing long-term and broad-based defence cooperation with the US on the basis of mutual interest.

Secretary Hagel acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts for an inclusive reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The premier assured the visiting American leader that his country would extend every possible support for stability in the region. “Pakistan would continue to play its role for peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

Hagel said US assistance to Pakistan continues to help build the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism capabilities of Pakistan’s security forces, which are critical to countering violence in the western border regions.

The US defence secretary also met with the new army chief General Raheel Sharif at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. Hagel is the first high-ranking US official to meet with the army chief, who took over following the retirement of his predecessor Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani late last month.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, issues concerning defence relationship, Pak-US bilateral ties and regional stability came under discussion. Secretary Hagel was accompanied by US Ambassador in Islamabad Richord G Olson and US Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence Dr Peter Lavoy.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2013.

Reader Comments (56)

  • Noman
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:40AM

    Those who thought KPK Gov. is a trap for IK. Imran Khan turned the table around. Look who is in trap now? Way to go Mr. Khan! Nation stands with you.

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  • CK
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:45AM

    Mr. Sharif needs to man up, he is the PM of our nation but he acts like a coward!

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  • CK
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:47AM

    It seems like Hagel doesn’t even want to shake hands with the PM.

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  • faizaan
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:48AM

    The photo says it all… Our PM is initiating and extending a hand for the shake, while a defense Secretary holds back.
    It is a matter of shame for us, that we are ordered down like this-all to do with our leaders who are no leaders and dismal economy.
    And before commentators bring the terrorist mantra-they should know that even Mandela was on the US terrorist watch list till 2008.As if our Indian neighbours are guilty free of this. One does not need to go beyond Srinagar to refute this.

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  • pindwala
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:58AM

    Photo says it all

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  • just_someone
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:58AM

    they are not shaking hands in the picture even though the caption says so. nawaz has his hand out and chuck is just looking at it :)

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  • Phoenix
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:59AM

    That’s a hilarious picture…

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  • ironMan!
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:08AM

    Hagel received assurances from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – NS:Yes Sir! “At your service!”
    Imran Khan, salute to you sir! You’ll be remembered in history of Pakistan who stood against all odds for the wishes of Pakistani common man. We wish you health and power to lead this country. Even if we do not see you as PM of Pakistan, you will remind us of our potential; power to believe in ourselves. Sooner or later, this nation will rise and Khan sahab we will not forget your contribution and strength ever. Take that as a promise from us to you “son of our soil”

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  • theOnlySane
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:18AM

    I would like to see what the frames after this depict! Put your camera on burst mode and it will capture a photo every second. Easy to pick a photo that shows that PM is willing to shake hand. This is called yellow journalism, show people what you want them to see.

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  • Faraz
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:20AM

    Not that I like NS but I am sure that Hagel shook his hand probably 10 milliseconds after the picture was taken. This is a typical example of the Pakistani media telling a part of the story to entice public into useless discussions.

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  • John the Baptist
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:21AM

    This PM is a huge embarrassment!

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  • uscitizen
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:38AM

    I don’t understand why you pakistani folks keep on debasing your own prime-minister. It’s apparent he is signalling Mr. Hagel to have a seat.

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  • Naseer
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:38AM

    Funny but not it’s a hand gesture not a hand shake :-)

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  • objective observer
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:44AM

    Chuck Hagel was argueably the most principled serious Senator the United States has had in the modern era. He was the only Republican Senator that completely opposed Bush. He doesn’t like playing games. This is a very strong signal. I wouldn’t take this change in tone lightly.

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  • Adnan Khan
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:50AM

    Hagel’s expression looking at NS’s outstretched hand seems to be, “Ugh“.

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  • Rex Minor
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:52AM

    It will be a sad day if Nawaz Sharif is forced out of office because he does not play ball with the people of KPK! People have brought him to power and people can lso take back the power. He must make the next move and decide upon his fate..

    Rex Minor

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  • Arzoo
    Dec 10, 2013 - 4:05AM

    OK, so at least we found out two things: 1) It did not take long for the U.S. to dispatch its’ top Defense fellow when its’ feet were held to fire, to threaten and, at the same time, cajole Pakistan to open up the supply routes. And, 2) All that talk about how it did not matter if the routes were blocked, since there are other avenues to get the supplies through, was a smokescreen.

    All of this boils down to one thing: you have a choice whether to live with dignity, integrity, and sovereignty, or live in ignominy, subjugation, and shame. Even if the drone strikes are effective in eliminating the terrorists, the strikes cannot be conducted without Pakistan’s permission. That is the fundamental point, and I am with Imran Khan on that stand. And the dignified and proud youth of the country should continue to be.

    Another issue is the billions Pakistan receive in allowing the supplies to go through its’ territory. Has anyone figured out how much damage those extremely heavy trucks are inflicting upon the roads and highways of Pakistan???

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  • Rohit Sen
    Dec 10, 2013 - 4:09AM

    Nationalism is fine.. But not every nation can afford it. Since Pakistan’s creation, the whole nation has been so India centric, that it has invested so much in either defense or non-state actors, that it has practically reduced itself to a failed state. It’s time Pakistan started focusing on policies that will make it a strong, financially independent country when Pakistan passport is respected and not feared.
    If not, as long as a country Pakistan depends on aid, it can’t stop having to listen to others.

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  • Mirza
    Dec 10, 2013 - 4:14AM

    There is a big difference when in opposition or when in power. PPP has been great while in opposition but not when in power. After tasting power their policies become the same.Recommend

  • Usman
    Dec 10, 2013 - 5:11AM

    E.T. you misspelled ‘Trillions’. Billions just doesn’t have the same ring to it. In either case, the answer is NO.

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  • salam
    Dec 10, 2013 - 5:51AM

    I love the picture of Quid e Azam. Its beautiful.

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  • Syed
    Dec 10, 2013 - 6:13AM

    @CK: thats what my thoughts are as well looking the the picture – and another point is – Hagel intentionally looked hesitant in shaking hand so that picture could be taken and his message is out there – which he succeded :)

    @Arzoo: – well, if our politicians and general were sincere to Pakistan, we wouldn’t be in this situation today :) – a very basic point about roads and highway condition due to this heavy transportation – but who cares :)

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  • AAK
    Dec 10, 2013 - 6:38AM

    Another Shameful picture Our PM extending his hand and American Secretary defence withdraws.

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  • d
    Dec 10, 2013 - 7:07AM

    imran khan actually helped make the terms of agreement between to the two countries public. its finally official! now open teh supply lines and bring in the gold, afghan refugees are a burden on our economy.

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  • polpot
    Dec 10, 2013 - 7:07AM

    The picture reminds me of Clinton’s 5 hour visit to Pakistan when he refused to be photographed shaking hands with Musharraf.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    History repeating.

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  • Dec 10, 2013 - 7:14AM

    This is what happens when you beg to someone other than Allah. You face humiliation and follow orders by the ‘donour’ (read master).

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  • d
    Dec 10, 2013 - 7:19AM

    @Arzoo:
    No, its the route of their invasion.into asia. back over the persian gulf, and to the ports that the coalition forces have complete access to (through their dealings with the arabs).

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  • Weirdity
    Dec 10, 2013 - 8:21AM

    @faizaan: maybe hagel thinks that your PM is going to cut his hands off like he did with manmohan Singh with kargil. Americans are smarter than Indians and they have figured out Pakistan and its leaders well.

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  • Kiran
    Dec 10, 2013 - 8:48AM

    This is too much insult, as just a defense secretary does not want to shake hand to a top most leader of pakistan.

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  • MAD
    Dec 10, 2013 - 10:20AM

    PM stands exposed and trapped. Now whatever move he makes will hurt him. I previously used to say that I dont know whether IK has hit a six with the supply blockade yet but its definitely a four., Well I can say now that its a six. Pakistan needs to man up now. We cant continue to grovel.

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  • Fahad
    Dec 10, 2013 - 10:28AM

    Great to see so many foreign affair experts commenting on the news :)!!

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  • rasgullah
    Dec 10, 2013 - 12:24PM

    @CK:
    You cannot man up when the only thing standing between you and bankruptcy is the aid from your masters. You can only imagine to challenge India if your masters support you and then they are going to ask you to pay up for providing you money.

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  • Asad
    Dec 10, 2013 - 12:47PM

    It’s shameful to see such a frustrated PM.Recommend

  • q
    Dec 10, 2013 - 1:35PM

    We dont need this aid, its is a cancer. No nation has ever progessed by begging other countries for Aid.

    We need to stand up on our feet. We need to get back our dignity. Correct our tax system , root out corruption etc

    Its time for some tough decisions

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  • q
    Dec 10, 2013 - 1:37PM

    We dont need this aid, its is a cancer. No nation has ever progessed by begging other countries for Aid.

    We need to stand up on our feet. We need to get back our dignity. Correct our tax system , root out corruption etc

    Its time for some tough decisions.

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  • Om Hari
    Dec 10, 2013 - 1:58PM

    A sense of déjà vu. Looks to me like a repeat of US warning the day after 9/11 when then US State Department Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage conveyed to the then head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate, Lt.Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed the message “Pakistan must either stand with the United States in its fight against terrorism or stand against us. There was no maneuvering room.”, leading to an immediate and complete surrender by Pakistan’s Military Dictator, General Musharraf.

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  • MA
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:04PM

    Jinnah’s photo in the background makes me wonder what his stance would have been in today’s challenging situation.

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  • Np
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:10PM

    @q:
    Brave words. But when they reut in increased power cuts because you have run out of forex to. Pay for oil, food shortage because you cannot import fertilisers or food – also use to forex being inadequate and massive unemployment alo use o increased old shedding – will you still say the same thing?

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  • MAyOr
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:12PM

    Self Esteem Restored !

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  • Moiz Omar
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:19PM

    I hope the U.S stops all aid to us. This way we Pakistanis will learn to be self reliant.

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  • Fahad
    Dec 10, 2013 - 2:28PM

    ET please post it.

    Let us not be biased. Everyone can see that US and NATO are requesting to open up the NATO routes, they are under pressure for sure. Those who said that alternate routes could be easily utilized are flawed. Imran Khan made a great decision in spite of all the mammoth criticism through media and Pro-American parties which includes Molana of JUIF. However, the picture taken was a deliberate attempt to downgrade the PM, it is obvious that when ever you shake hands, one has to pull the hand out first. However, the PM has downgraded himself by not caring for the blood of the people of Pakistan. Remember, Let us not be biased.Recommend

  • John
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:01PM

    @Fahad:
    Well said. Those who don’t respect themselves deserve no respect from others, as aptly shown in the title pic.Recommend

  • Turbo
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:02PM

    billions of dollars???? is it equal to 90 billion dollars which we lost after jumping in this phony war on terror???

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  • Crimson
    Dec 10, 2013 - 3:05PM

    With Leaders like Imran khan and Munawwar Hasan, Pakistan does not need enemy.

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  • Parvez
    Dec 10, 2013 - 4:12PM

    Is Nawaz sharif man enough to make the right call…………..I doubt it.
    His modus operandi is to do nothing……..and let events determine the outcome.Recommend

  • Pakistani1
    Dec 10, 2013 - 4:15PM

    coward sherRecommend

  • Stellar
    Dec 10, 2013 - 4:20PM

    Those Nations who starts to believe that aid will help them never flourishes and never develops. Foreign aid is a curse which should be declined as soon as possible. The whole Nation will rise with dignity and honor if the US is declined, or the US stops the aid….as blessing in disguise. Recommend

  • objective observer
    Dec 10, 2013 - 4:27PM

    Sec. Hagel should be flattered that PM Sharif wore a pair pants and suit jacket just for him.Recommend

  • Abdullah Khan
    Dec 10, 2013 - 4:46PM

    I hope the U.S stops all aid to us. I also requested them also to Stop Food items Exports from Pakistan. And one another Request to stop ittifaq group of industries Export items. Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Dec 10, 2013 - 5:12PM

    @Parvez:
    Who would have thought that the infra structure laid out by the great muslim monarchs for the beneft of the Indian proleteriats travel comfort on the plains of the sub continent will one day be leased to the crusaders warriors to extend their hegemony over the proud Pashtun Afghans whose independence has remained unmolisted in History. All those who have supported this venture by design or by neglect will be washed away one by one over a perio of time . This is in the scriptures and will be witnessed in time. The difference between IK nd NS is the one who want to be the part of the change and the other for status quo!!

    Rex Minor

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  • bilal
    Dec 10, 2013 - 5:39PM

    Most people who express support for Imran Khan and share his view that U.S.A is the source of most if not all of the problems in Pakistan. I ask, How was Pakistan doing before the evil U.S.A started meddling in your affairs? Pick your decade 1950s to 1990s. The average Pakistani I imagine cares more about feeding his family and educating his/her children than drones killing militants/Taliban in tribal regions. Tell me I am wrong

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  • Stellar
    Dec 10, 2013 - 6:31PM

    @rasgullah:
    I do hope by you…you mean Nawaz sharif, and not the whole 180,000,000 people who want to live with dignity and honor. The aid never trickles down to the common man, and it is all gobbled up by the military and the government.
    Aspirations and thoughts of the government and those of the whole swathe of people are different things with totally different connotations.

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  • unbelievable
    Dec 10, 2013 - 7:58PM

    Can anyone name a time/event when chest thumping got Pakistan anything other than a sore chest? Cutting off NATO supplies because the USA killed someone responsible for slaughtering thousands of Pakistani’s is about as dumb as dumb gets – another reason that the World ranks you lower than N Korea.

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  • Last Word
    Dec 10, 2013 - 8:50PM

    Foolish Americans gives money to pakistan assuming to fight terror, but they use it arm and spread terror tentacles across the South-asia especially in Afghanistan and India.
    When will Americans wake up to this reality??? Recommend

  • Parvez
    Dec 10, 2013 - 10:45PM

    @Rex Minor: Well said.
    Lets hope that what the scriptures say comes to pass quickly otherwise there are other sayings in the scriptures that tell of the doom and destruction of those who did nothing to help themselves and only waited for prophecies to be fulfilled.

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  • syed baqar ahsan
    Dec 11, 2013 - 10:55PM

    when Americans threatening they talk of billions where as they provide only millions with lot of delays and black mail through ADB,WB,IMF etc which is loan but USA interfere.This all money is a big excuse for USA to involve in our matter,advantage of this money is over projected by planted bureaucrats and through in our sold media.

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