Pak-US: Knock for a Loop
“The Pressler Amendment sanctions that prevented the Clinton Administration from delivering 28 Peacegate F-16 aircraft that Pakistan purchased left a long and bitter legacy that we do not want to repeat, especially not now when we need Pakistan's cooperation to fight extremism that threatens us both. We believe the foreign policy consequences of the U.S. reneging on our contract obligations to sell 18 new aircraft–essentially repeating the Peacegate history–will be extremely negative; therefore, we recommend that we place the impetus on the Pakistanis to make the hard choices about scaling back or delaying the new buy”. Anne W Patterson
By Hamid Waheed
The Coalition forces enter the exit stage in Afghanistan and the route leading to political solutions thought to be possible through mutual efforts of collation partners and Afghans have once again come under tremendous pressure. The conflicting US policies by Pentagon, CIA, and White House have failed to come up with any solution for the ongoing war in Afghanistan for decade. Happenings of end of 2011 after NATO attack on Salala check post in Pakistan killing 24 Pakistani troops has further compounded the problem as Pakistan and US trust deficit has turned into total non-cooperation from both sides. US has gone for un announced stoppage in the aid with Obama signing a bill to make it a law as the new year starts and re- imbursement of Collation Support Fund (CSF) is also held up since Jun 2010. On Pakistan’s end Supplies for the allied troops fighting in Afghanistan have been suspended through Pakistan. According to sources the US cargo, stranded in Pakistan, is worth millions of dollars and US authorities have serious concerns over the safety of the cargo as it includes hammer vehicles, dumpers, anti-aircraft guns, special carriers of anti-aircraft guns, vehicles specially built to jam communications, cranes and sophisticated weapons along with perishable items including special food for soldiers. This is apart from the fuel tankers which carries all type of fuel for burning as well as vehicle use and has become a rare and much more expensive commodity in Afghanistan after route block. Moreover news of 2 more vessels of NATO goods in first half of Jan 2012 is likely to further compound congestion at Karachi port.
A source close to Anita Rice, Chief of 595th Transport Brigade, at Bahrain told that with no solution to present standoff in sight, the US government intends to have all import unit cargo that is currently staged at different Container Holding Yards moved back to Karachi port or the nearest yard to the port. Anita says once we receive approval, all unit cargo will be exported out of Pakistan. Pakistan’s communication ministry and the National Highway Authority has estimated a yearly loss of Rs50 billion due to overloaded containers of NATO/ISAF supply goods transported through Karachi-Chaman and Karachi-Torkham routes to Afghanistan,” According to one estimate the road damage is as high as Rs 110 billion. The ministry sources told that they have written several letters to NATO over the issue, but received no reply from their side.
The Defence Minister of Pakistan said that the Pakistani roads have been destroyed due to the movement of heavy vehicles, carrying NATO supplies. “We will build our roads and infrastructure with the money we take from NATO”. Such a demand from a collation partner may sound untimely but not so when it comes to American understanding of the international relations. Coincidently we have F-16 case to refer to refresh our memory which we must not forget. In the early 1980s, the United States agreed to sell Pakistan F-16 fighter jets. This decision was taken when the United States worked closely with Pakistan to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan. The F-16 was the most important air platform in Pakistan’s air force and it was the most likely delivery vehicle of a nuclear weapon. When nuclear proliferation-related sanctions (under the Pressler Amendment) came into force in 1990, the U.S. government cancelled the sales of several F-16s. Between 1990 and 1993, Pakistan paid 476 million dollars in installments for 26 F-16 fighter planes which the air force said was essential for its defence preparedness. At the time of releasing the money, Islamabad said it had Washington's word that by the time the aircraft were ready for delivery the sanctions would be lifted. But nothing of that sort happened. While the planes were still in the United States , Pakistan was forced to pay 2 million dollars as demurrage charges to the manufacturers.
The then U.S President Bill Clinton acknowledged, while talking to the Washington press on Apr. 4, 1995, that it was an "unfair situation" for Pakistan. When the Pressler sanctions came into force, Pakistan was precluded from taking possession of 28 F-16s for which it had made payments until 1993, some three years after the sanctions commenced. Pakistan paid the Lockheed Corp.$658 million for the planes. Pakistan did not get the planes and was assessed storage and maintenance costs of $50,000 per month for the planes. Finally, under threat of a Pakistani lawsuit, U.S. president Bill Clinton resolved the issue in late 1998. Pakistan received $464 million, mostly in cash, which was the remaining amount of the claim. Clinton also agreed to send Pakistan an additional $60 million worth of wheat. (New Zealand ultimately purchased the F-16s on a 10-year lease-purchase deal that totaled $105 million.) Leaked US Cables from Anne W. Patterson, talking on the issue said, “The Pressler Amendment sanctions that prevented the Clinton Administration from delivering 28 Peacegate F-16 aircraft that Pakistan purchased left a long and bitter legacy that we do not want to repeat, especially not now when we need Pakistan's cooperation to fight extremism that threatens us both. We believe the foreign policy consequences of the U.S. reneging on our contract obligations to sell 18 new aircraft–essentially repeating the Peacegate history–will be extremely negative; therefore, we recommend that we place the impetus on the Pakistanis to make the hard choices about scaling back or delaying the new buy”.
The bitter history aside the solution still lies in looking inwards and not in blame games, more accommodation and understanding of others national interests. WOT in Afghanistan needs a systematic transition towards political solution, The above shows mistrust amongst America and Pakistan at this crucial stage which may lead the region to disaster. Leadership on both sides must understand the implications of Pak U.S relations for the regional and global peace. However the super power has to play a dominant role to defuse the situation. The NATO attack inquiry and its findings need a cool deliberation to find a reasonable way out. An extract from page 28 of the US report made public on net says, ”The relevant Operational information was not released to the PAK Military in timely manner – contrary to SOP, order and directives …. This omission led ultimately to a critical delay in notifying PAKMIL of the impending Operation and created critical ambiguity overall with regard to the identification of forces on the border”. At this juncture its not only Pak and US but the role of all stake holders including 42 coalition partners , the regional players and Kiyani and Dempsey which has to emerge. Both US and Pakistan need a knock for a loop under such trying history and present environment .