Failure in Chicago: No U.S.-Pakistan Deal on NATO Supply Lines

By Reza Jan May 22, 2012

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President Obama speaks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari during the NATO summit in Chicago, May 21, 2012 (White House)

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Chicago concluded, the much hoped-for deal between the United States and Pakistan to reopen NATO supply routes through Pakistan did not materialize. In fact, hardened stances on display in Chicago on both sides chipped away at optimism that a deal may be in the offing anytime soon.

The elusive deal to open the Pakistani Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs) appears in the end to have stumbled on a pricing issue, but it was likely a misreading by both parties of the other’s negotiating red lines and competing external and internal pressures that led to the showdown becoming the spectacle that took center stage in Chicago. Both sides will likely now re-gauge and approach the negotiating table afresh. Securing an agreement on the GLOCs is important enough to both Pakistan and the U.S. that the setback is unlikely to kill negotiating efforts altogether.  It is possible that negotiations can now be conducted in a more level-headed manner free of the artificial deadline and inflated international expectations that the Chicago summit imposed on them. The advantages to both sides of reopening the GLOCs are so great that a deal is likely at some point.  The experience of the closure and the negotiations, however, has laid bare the changed relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. The idea that the two states are real partners in a common struggle has been replaced by a naked process of horse-trading. The shift to an openly transactional relationship between Islamabad and Washington may be the most important outcome of this process.

The Last Minute Deal That Wasn’t

While a GLOCs deal between the U.S. and Pakistan started to flounder before the summit even began, in the days leading up to Chicago both sides broadcast optimism that a deal would be reached by, and even announced during, the NATO conference.

On May 15, following months of prevarication, haggling, and domestic politicking, Pakistan’s government announced that it had approved, in principle, the reopening of the NATO supply route.[1] Pakistan had shut the route nearly six months ago following a border clash on November 26, 2011 in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO aircraft after Pakistani and NATO soldiers ended up trading fire. The very same day as that announcement was made, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari received an invitation to attend the NATO summit in Chicago—an invitation that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had earlier hinted might have been withheld altogether if Pakistan did not agree to open the NATO GLOCs.[2] According to U.S. officials, the invitation was extended because the U.S. and Pakistanis had more or less reached a deal on the GLOCs.[3] The Pakistanis, however, stated that receiving the invitation to the NATO summit was the key step in reaching an agreement.[4]

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Insurgency in Xinjiang Complicates Chinese-Pakistani Relations

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 10 Issue: 8

April 20, 2012 02:50 PM By: Jacob Zenn

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Zhou Yongkang (left), member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), shakes hands with a local Uygur farmer in Kashi. (Xinhua)

China typically exercises caution when making public statements about terrorist attacks in Xinjiang. When China blames attacks on Pakistan-based terrorist organizations, such as the possibly defunct East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), it risks adding tensions to the Sino-Pakistani “all-weather” friendship. [1] However, when China blames attacks on local Uyghurs it is tantamount to an admission that its policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have not created a “harmonious society.”

In unprecedented fashion, China recently pointed the finger at Pakistan after a February 28 attack in Yecheng, a city 200 kilometers from the oasis city of Kashgar, close to the border with Tajikistan. The Chairman of the Xinjiang Regional Government decisively remarked on March 7 that the attackers had “one thousand and one links” to Pakistan (Times of India, March 8). China further implicated Pakistan on April 6, albeit indirectly, when it published on the Ministry of Public Security website profiles of six Uyghurs from China who allegedly operate in “South Asia” as members of the ETIM. [2] Despite these allegations, there is almost no evidence that the recent attack in Yecheng was plotted from Pakistan and there are only inconclusive reports that the two major attacks in Xinjiang in 2011 were planned in Pakistan. there is scant evidence that recent attacks in Xinjiang have actually been plotted from Pakistan. It is possible that China is publically citing Pakistan as the source of terrorism in Xinjiang to put pressure on Pakistan for strategic purposes or to deflect attention from the regional government’s inability to contain outbreaks of violence in Xinjiang.

One of the strongest pieces of evidence establishing a Pakistan tie to terrorism in Xinjiang comes from a martyrdom video posted on the Shmukh al-Islam online forum in September 2011 that showed Memtieli Tiliwaldi training with the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in what appears to be the mountainous tribal regions of Pakistan (see Terrorism Monitor, January 26). [3] Tiliwaldi had been killed by Chinese security forces days after taking part in attacks on Han Chinese pedestrians and diners in Kashgar on July 30 and July 31, 2011 that left ten people dead. The video, which was allegedly created by Nurmemet Memetmin, one of the six Uyghurs profiled on the Ministry of Public Security website, seems to prove that Tiliwaldi trained in Pakistan with the TIP and then carried out attacks in Kashgar. However, one of several issues with this video is that it is unclear why the TIP would honor only Tiliwaldi and not the other dozen “martyrs” that took part in the Kashgar attacks if the TIP was indeed responsible.

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War games spotlight China-Pakistan hype

South entrance of Expo 2010 Shanghai, near the...

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JHELUM:

Paratroopers hurtling head first out of planes, attack helicopters strafing a terror training centre and shacks blown to bits were this week’s latest embodiment of ChinaPakistan friendship.

The war games conducted by 540 Chinese and Pakistani soldiers running around scrubland – the fourth joint exercises since 2006 – were ostensibly a chance for China to benefit from Pakistan’s counter-terrorism experience.
There was disappointment that fighter jets were unable to carry out a bombing raid, with visibility apparently poor, but the exercises were declared a success in terms of deepening friendship and improving military cooperation.
But behind the pomp rolled out for the Chinese, complete with slap-up marquee lunch and bags of presents, the relationship is as transactional as any other as China competes with Pakistan’s arch-rival, India, for Asian dominance.
And it is far from easy to decipher. “They operate silently so as not to make any statements in public apart from cliches. So one doesn’t know what’s happening,” said retired Pakistani general Talat Masood.
China is Pakistan’s main arms supplier, while Beijing has built two nuclear power plants in Pakistan and is contracted to construct two more reactors.
But the alliance has been knocked by Chinese accusations that the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which wants an independent homeland for Xinjiang’s Muslim Uighurs, is training “terrorists” in Pakistani camps.

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Pakistan orders US to close Shamsi airbase

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Pakistan orders US to close Shamsi airbase

© RIA Novosti. Evgeni Pakhomov

23:34 26/11/2011

MOSCOW, November 26 (RIA Novosti)

Tags: NATO, Afghanistan, United States, Pakistan

Pakistani authorities on Saturday gave the United States 15 days to leave the Shamsi airbase, and closed NATO supply lines into Afghanistan in response to a deadly NATO air strike, the DawnNews TV channel reported.

The Federal Cabinet’s Defense Committee said no compromise would be made on the country’s sovereignty and security.

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Pakistan-Nato Links Strained After Air Strike

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Saturday, 26th November 2011 07:46

Pakistan is reportedly set to review all diplomatic, military and intelligence links with the US and Nato following a deadly cross-border attack on a border checkpoint.

A spokesman for Nato troops in Afghanistan has admitted that it is “highly likely” its aircraft were behind the assault on Pakistani troops while hunting insurgents near the border.

As many as 28 soldiers died and 14 others were wounded in the strike, according to reports.

The Pakistani government has responded by blocking the vital supply route for Nato troops fighting in Afghanistan.

It has also ordered the US to vacate a controversial airbase within 15 days, reports say.

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China, Pakistan boost anti-terrorism

The coat of arms of Pakistan displays the nati...

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11:00 PM, Nov. 25, 2011  |

Written by The Associated Press

JHELUM, Pakistan — The Pakistani and Chinese attack choppers swoop low across the valley, strafing a mock terrorist hideout and a bomb-making factory. Then a joint commando team storms the camp — to the gentle applause of top brass from both nations watching from the stands.

The fact that such a drill is needed reflects a new concern troubling their long-standing alliance: Chinese militants along the Afghan border allegedly aiding separatism in China and plotting terrorist attacks there

Countries around the world, especially the U.S., share Chinese concerns about Pakistan’s militant-infested tribal regions, but few get the same kind of public commitment of help as Beijing. It’s a legacy of China’s oft-hailed “all-weather friendship” with Pakistan.

Anti-terror cooperation is the latest example of the special relationship between the neighboring countries.

China’s good will is vital to Pakistan: China is its largest defense supplier, and it has helped construct two nuclear reactors. Chinese investments help keep the Pakistani economy afloat.

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Why the Haqqani network continues to escape US terror tag

Last updated on: October 31, 2011 13:45 IST

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The US is keeping the doors open for negotiations with the terror group as the Afghan endgame plays out, says Amir Mir reporting from Islamabad.

Despite being blamed for the September 13, 2011, attack on the American embassy in Kabul, the deadly Haqqani network is most likely to remain branded by the United States as an insurgent group rather than being officially designated as a ‘foreign terrorist organisation’ mainly because Washington simply cannot afford to exclude from peace talks a powerful Afghan militant group which has a key role in determining the shape of the Afghanistan that American troops will leave behind.

During her recent visit to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton changed the sharp edge of the much-touted US policy for a more conciliatory stance towards Pakistan’s aggressive response to demands that it attack North Waziristan and oust the Haqqani network from there.

Instead, she proposed that Pakistan facilitate American peace talks with the two kinds of Taliban (Pakistani and Afghan) and the Haqqani network, saying America had no evidence that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence was hand-in-glove with the Haqqanis or that the ISI had encouraged them to attack US-Nato targets in Afghanistan.

Well-informed diplomatic circles in Islamabad say this is a significant change of attitude and Clinton’s powerful delegation stood guarantee to it: Central Intelligence Agency Director General David Petraeus, Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor Lieutanant General Edward Lute who oversaw the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

A terrorist tag would make it impossible to hold talks with the Haqqanis

Last updated on: October 31, 2011 13:45 IST

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In a rather bitter-sweet message, Hillary Clinton asked Islamabad to start dismantling militant safe havens along the Afghan border within days and weeks, but said the United States respected Pakistan’s sovereignty and would not undertake any unilateral action against terrorists on its soil.

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