Apologies, reopening GLOC & border attacks
By S. M. Hali
The long awaited apology rendered by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar for the NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year, finally prompted the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) to take the decision for the reopening of the Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC). The NATO supply routes or GLOC as termed in the official jargon, transiting through Pakistan had been blocked by the DCC and endorsed by the Parliament among a number of punitive measures taken following the attack on Pakistan’s military check post at Salala on 26 November 2011. The DCC, which met on July 3, 2012, presided over by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, attended by key federal ministers, services chiefs and relevant officials; took the decision in view of Pakistan’s deteriorating relations with the 49 members of NATO/ISAF and Secretary Clinton’s “apology”.
Pakistan has also assured that it will not demand any additional transit fees for the transportation of the NATO/ISAF supplies. This puts to rest the accusations by the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta that Pakistan was gouging for a tariff-hike for NATO/ISAF logistic containers transiting through its territory. This statement came despite Mr. Panetta’s admission that the closure since November has cost the US more than $2 billion. During Pakistan’s closure of the GLOC, the US was forced to use the more expensive Northern Distribution Network through Russia and Central Asia. Panetta estimated the cost at an extra $100 million a month. He had warned that costs would escalate as the U.S. commenced withdrawal of equipment in advance of the 2014 troop drawdown in Afghanistan.
It is ironical that knowledgeable scholars like Dr. C. Christine Fair, a specialist on South Asian affairs, chose to take a swipe at the issue of “apology”. She writes that “many Americans are waiting for the following apologies from Pakistan:
1) WE are sorry for the sad fact that your navy seals had to bust in and kill and nab UBL who hanging out in UBLpur merrily begetting a human shield with the help of erection aids, porn and a gaggle of terror wives ensconced leisurely with him. Oh yes…a wee distance from Pakistan's PMA. 2) We are sorry that we claim to be sovereign but can only arrest the doctor who helped catch UBL…not any of the IB wallahs who likely knew or the slews of doctors who whelped UBL's clatch of children or even the owner of the house. We keep asking for proof of any such culprits. 3) We are sorry for continuing to support in every possible way JuD/LeT and the menagerie of murderous nuts attacking Indians, Afghans, others in the region. 4) We are sorry for the thousands of American, ISAF and Afghan troops killed by proxies directly supported by us perfidious Pakistanis (e.g. Haqqani, LeT, Af-Taliban and so forth). We really want to toss off our jihadi addiction. 5) We are sorry for hpw all of the above because we've done it while taking US cash to help the GWOT or whatever you folks are calling these days.”
Christine Fair discloses that she had argued long ago that the US should render an apology but she surmises that the US army—unlike the Pak army—is not “rogue” and remains a professional military. She claims that the US dishonored its own military culture by refusing to do the right thing and apologizing immediately. However, instead of linking the apology to the GLOC reopening the US should have linked the apology to a larger discussion of Pakistani “perfidy”. She goes on to highlight the rancor by recommending that the GLOCs should have stayed closed until the “perfidy” issue was resolved, construing that “It's cheaper to pay 140 million per month in the long term if it means diminishing Pakistan's space for jihadi chicanery.” She drives the proverbial dagger deeper in Pakistan’s heart by stating: “However, I am not holding my breath for one such apology. So Pakistan can pocket yet another apology but thousands of US troops have families that will likely keep waiting for their apology from Pakistan's men on horseback.”
Christine Fair should take cognizance of the fact that Secretary Clinton has confirmed that she and her Pakistani counterpart were “both sorry for the losses suffered” by both countries in the fight against terrorists. This is a far cry from the position adopted by Pakistan, which had constantly maintained that the strikes on border posts were deliberate and planned. As for her claim that the US Army is not rogue, she should refer to Gareth Porter, writing for “Counterpunch” in his Op-Ed titled: ‘US military killed Pakistani soldiers one by one long after being informed it was attacking Pakistani positions’ carried onJanuary 26, 2012, who had poked holes in the inquiry. Perhaps Christine Fair can recall the cases of “The US Kill Teams”, US GIs’ images urinating on dead Afghan corpses and the deliberate desecration of pages of the Holy Qur?n and then decide which is the rogue army?
Meanwhile, US media and western opinion builders have been vocal that cross border attacks by Taliban are hurting them deep as their troops and counter insurgency/counter terrorism wherewithal are targeted by the terrorists who pour into Afghanistan from bordering Pakistan. This propaganda had reached a crescendo targeting Pakistani leadership as the US presidential began to draw near. Like Christine Fair’s diatribe quoted above, some of the pet slogans of the US media and statesmen have been that "we (US) are funding Pakistan for getting our troops killed in Afghanistan". The hard fact is that Pakistan has been the victim of cross border attacks by Afghan armed groups / militants (from Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan) who frequently launch brutal attacks against Pakistani border outposts and civilian population, in Dir and Chitral regions. Numerous innocent people have lost their lives while soldiers belonging to Border Security Forces have been captured and cruelly slaughtered. The US policymakers remain oblivious of these gory episodes, which we hope the reopening of GLOC will now bring an end to.