US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta did not just see the ban on Nato supplies as the only problem ahead to the alliance’s Chicago Summit. Accompanying the last-minute hitch caused by the USA balking at the $5000 per container proposed by Pakistan, which it wants to devote to the upkeep of infrastructure worn out by the hauling of these supplies over Pakistani roads, are American worries over whether the alliance will contribute troops for maintaining forces there beyond the current withdrawal target date of 2014. Newly-elected French President François Hollande, for example, campaigned on the basis of speeding up the withdrawal of the 3,300-strong French contingent to earlier than the end of the current year. The USA, already cash-strapped, hopes that the Summit would generate the kind of cash commitments from Nato countries that would allow it to concentrate on its own budgeting and debt worries, which prevent it from underwriting the entire cost of the occupation of Afghanistan, the sort of burden it would shoulder in the past.

Pakistan’s role at the Summit is unclear, though its importance in a final settlement is evident. It should also be acknowledged that the decision to re-open Nato supplies without an apology for the Salala massacre, which provoked the ban originally, has resulted in public resentment. One symptom of this will the threat from the Difa-e-Pakistan Council of a march on Islamabad on May 27, after starting from Karachi on Sunday. The purpose of the march is to stop the restoration, which may well have taken place by then.

The government by showing concern for public opinion, could stop the DPC in its tracks, as after all, they are not elected representatives of the people - and those in government are! To reduce the massacre of so many Pakistani soldiers to a mere haggling over price, is to make a laughingstock of ourselves. The cost of conducting a war is great - and the US will not be crushed with disappointment if we refuse to restore Nato supply lines. Yes, the finances may pinch, but where they are spending billions of dollars on the War on Terror anyways, whats a few million more. What is most beneficial for the US, is frankly, not our concern. For Pakistan, however, the war remains one that the country at large cannot and has not taken ownership of. It would be best to end our engagement in the war, wish the US the best of luck for ending its - and restructuring our relationship with the sole superpower outside of the war on terror. This new relationship is one that carries the best chances of success and a restoration of goodwill which the US enjoyed in Pakistan, not so many years back.