Chicago Summit: Pakistan offered no Quarter?
Today, in the Express Tribune, I was reading about the Chicago Summit and how Pakistan “offered no quarter” in the face of immense pressure from the US and its allies. Reading the comments section, I came across a comment completing the sentence: “offers no quarter and receives none” while other Pakistan-bashers talked about how Zardari accomplished nothing and even tarnished Pakistan’s image!
I’m no lover of President Zardari, but to be fair, I think he and the rest of the Pakistani delegation did very well. They kept their cool, reiterated their support for a peaceful Afghanistan and in the meantime stood firm regarding Pakistani demands for an apology and $5000 per container. At the same time, President Obama rudely refused to meet Zardari and White House officials said they were “furious at Pakistan” for still not opening the supply routes while Pakistan’s demand of $5000 per truck was deemed excessive.
Excessive? Seriously? The US can spend hundreds of billions of dollars on the war in Afghanistan, but they can’t pay $5000 to the country without which their entire war effort would collapse like a house of cards? Anyone who thinks this is excessive needs to have his head examined because this money is basically NOTHING compared to the important role Pakistan has already played in the US war effort. And to be sure we’ve made sacrifices, we’ve sent our young men to die and it is Pakistan that has had to bear the brunt of the Taliban’s fury. One would think that the US officials would understand the burden of the war on Pakistan or at the very least, recognize Pakistani support for their war, but instead of that, they are actually getting “furious” at us.
The United States is so used to pushing around Pakistan that this standoff is quite a shock to them, I think. They are used to using Pakistani land and airspace and then throwing a few bones at us. In short, the US is used to treating Pakistan like a vassal state. Some may well point out that with the state of our economy, we are little more than a vassal state, but even if that is the case, this vassal is in a position to make its master the loser by several billion dollars…
You might think that I’m some kind of right-wing zealot, fanatically opposed to the Afghan War and cooperation with the US, but I’m not. I’m actually a staunch supporter of the War on Terrorism, but for the sacrifices rendered, Pakistan must have some compensation. Pakistan MUST be treated with respect. Talking of respect, this is exactly what Zardari talked about in Chicago. More precisely, he said that any relationship with the US must be based on mutual trust and respect. And another thing he didn’t say out loud, but which must exist for a relationship like that between the US and Pakistan to exist and thrive: mutual benefit. Yes, if Pakistan is helping the US so much, we must have some kind of benefit. Respect and trust are both very good, but neither of them are currencies. The Americans seem to be oblivious to the fact that they need to help out Pakistan with its numerous problems if they want our continued cooperation. It’s high time they woke up.