According to press reports, ISI Chief Lt-Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha has been to Doha to meet US military and intelligence officials. Obviously, we cannot remain cut off from the United States permanently and there has to be a certain level of cooperation between the two but these must be on the right lines and not concluded in a rush no matter how much the Americans want us to do that. As for Americans, they are their usual unreasonable and arrogant souls, refusing to apologise for the deliberate killing of our soldiers and have failed to announce any firm action against the Americans involved in the killing, despite even their own reports putting substantial blame on the US. As if all this was not enough, President Barack Obama has frozen most of the paltry aid that we were supposed to get in addition to reimbursement of coalition support expenses, which is almost forgotten. What a way to start the New Year. In a situation where the US, while expressing its desire to restore the relationship to former level, is in practical terms doing all it can to make our life difficult, we also do not have to go out of our way, and be in great hurry, to accommodate it.

Various state organs are working out the structure that will govern our future relations with the US and when ready in draft form, it should be openly debated in the parliament, and comments invited from experts so that the matter is finalised in a transparent manner. All this will of course take time, but in the meantime, the matter of withheld Nato supplies may acquire some urgency. So, while working on the other issues, an attempt should be made to determine how much we are going to charge, and to work out a foolproof system to collect and to account for all revenue, on fresh arrivals as well as on containers which are presently scattered between port town and Afghan border. Attempts should also be made to ensure that the US and its allies do not misuse Afghan transit trade facility to bypass the embargo in some way. For a fee, any leading firm of Chartered Accountants would be pleased to work out such a system in consultation with the concerned departments. It is well-worth giving this matter some urgent attention and be ready for the eventuality, otherwise Nato containers could be the biggest scandal of the New Year.

S.R.H. HASHMI,

Karachi, January 2.