In the middle of the existing diplomatic tension between Pakistan and the United States over the reopening of Nato supply lines from Pakistani territory, the President Asif Ali Zardari has reached Chicago to represent Pakistan at the high profile and an important Nato Summit regarding post 2014 Afghanistan. The summit attended by leaders of 61 countries around the world will try to finalize a master plan of action for the war-torn Afghanistan’s security and its socio-economic development once the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) troops would withdraw as scheduled in next couple of years. The most important aspect of the summit would be to get financial pledges from the member states for arranging about four billion dollars a year to train Afghan National Army and Police besides launching infrastructure development projects in various parts of Afghanistan.

 Referring to achieving agenda of the Summit, Stephen Flanagan of the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies said, “most allies have not met their pledges to the existing Nato training mission in Afghanistan over the past four years, so their willingness to do so after the ISAF withdrawn, when they are even more dependent on Afghan forces for their security, particularly given the incidents we have seen of late, that is a key question.” So, as far as success of the summit is concerned, no doubt, there are many ifs and buts connected to the talks. 

The reason is obvious, because, the US is still very much confused about the possible solution to the Afghan conflict. Until there was a clear roadmap before the US for achieving lasting peace and security in Afghanistan, an ad hoc policy would not bring positive results except more bloodshed and insecurity in the entire region. Therefore, the problem lies not with the Afghan nation or its neighbors but with the Americans. The US has to be quite clear about its objectives in Afghanistan which, it unfortunately could not spell out in the last 10 years. One may wish that the gathering like Chicago could bring some kind of respite to the people of this unfortunate region.

Although hopes of a positive outcome of the Summit are very little, however, Pakistan being a neighbour of a war theater (Afghanistan), a frontline state against War on Terror and a very responsible member of the international community cannot and should be left out of cosmetic efforts seeking peace and stability for Afghan nation, which has, no doubt, a direct impact on Pakistan internal security and stability.

It is still a positive sign that Pakistan is participating in the Nato Summit without accepting the precondition of the US/Nato regarding opening of the land routes for their supplies, but there are reports that Pakistan has given some positive indications to Washington that sooner rather than later it would reopen the route. The nation hopes that our leadership both in Islamabad and Rawalpindi will not compromise on national interests.

Islamabad wants that all new engagements regarding War on Terror with the United States and the Nato/ISAF in Afghanistan would be based on the guidelines, which have been approved by the Joint Parliamentary Resolution. The resolution besides dozens of other important foreign policy recommendations has demanded unconditional apology from the US/Nato for Salala attack where 24 soldiers of Pakistan Army were martyred in November last year.

The US is reluctant to tender apology at this point in time as some American analysts believe that it would be a political suicide for President Obama who is aspiring to win the second term towards the end of this year. We really appreciate the statement given by Ambassador Sherry Rehman before the Nato Summit that Pakistan has not withdrawn its demand of former apology from the US. We hope and wish that the US leadership would show maturity in understanding the sensitivity of the issue and would come out with some kind of statement regarding Salala tragedy during the Nato Summit.

It would be a good opportunity for the US and other Nato allies to satisfy Pakistan’s public sentiments and pave the way for future cooperation.

If the US tries to use the financial pressures coupled with its leaning towards India for underestimating Pakistan’s relevance to Afghanistan then the prospect of success for so-called “End Game” in Afghanistan would remain uncertain.

The US administration must understand that achieving any domestic political move that may be related to the coming presidential elections is connected with its diplomatic attempt on Afghanistan problem. Measures like linking Coalition Support Fund (CSF) or any other financial assistance to Pakistan with the reopening of Nato supply would be considered unwise on the part of US. Yes, the US frustration over closure of Nato supply is understandable but our point of view must also be understood.

Since the President is there for the summit. It would be a unique opportunity for Pakistan to present its case in front of the international community. The world must be told that Pakistan has suffered the most in this so-called War on Terror. More than 35000 innocent Pakistanis including 5000 brave security forces personnel have sacrificed their precious lives. Meanwhile our economy has lost over $ 100 billion dollars and 150,000 troops are fighting in the Fata with militants. Our people have faced worst terrorist attacks in every part of the country. But still we are being blamed for supporting militants and asked to do more.

Enough is enough. The blood of our soldiers and civilians is as precious as that of any other nation, so, justice demands that our efforts against countering militancy and terrorism should be recognised whole-heatedly. Pakistan has time and again expressed willingness to cooperate with the world but that cooperation must be based on bilateral and multilateral formula. Nato summit or beyond that, our engagement with the US must be based on parliament’s recommendations including the Nato supply. If the government or any state institution tries to disregard the will of the people, it would be disastrous for the future of our nation. We don’t want to be isolated at the international level; however, at the same time we don’t want to be taken for granted as well. We hope the Nato summit unlike many other initiatives on Afghanistan will give some hope to Afghan nation and rest of the region which is aspiring for peace and prosperity for the last one decade.

n    The writers is broadcast journalist.