THE US Congress yesterday froze $700 million of aid to its ally Pakistan until it gets assurances that Pakistan will combat the spread of homemade explosives in the region which are being used to kill NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Calls continue to be made in the US for big aid cuts to be made to the billions that the US annually gives to Pakistan. Many US political leaders publicly declare that the Taleban have to be beaten inside Pakistan before they can be beaten in Afghanistan.
However, the US attacks on Pakistan have already stoked up an inferno of opposition in Pakistan.
Late Sunday night a NATO truck driver was killed and at least eight tankers were burnt after unknown fighters attacked a NATO southwest of Quetta.
The NATO fuel supply tankers’ convoy was attacked while returning to the port city of Karachi from the Afghan border after being barred from entering Afghanistan after the closure of supplies to Nato and ISAF forces in response to the US drone attacks.
According to a senior police official, at least eight fighters attacked the convoy in Dadar in Bolan district, about 60 miles southwest of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan.
Last Thursday, fighters destroyed at least 34 oil tankers and containers in a gun and rocket attack at a temporary NATO trucking terminal in Quetta.
Salim Saifullah, chairman of Pakistan’s Senate foreign relations committee, warned ties could worsen much further after the decision to freeze the $700 million.
The US has been launching attacks inside the Pakistan border since 2009. Its raids have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Pakistani civilians.
In May 2011, a secret Navy Seal raid in Abottabad succeeds in killing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. However, Pakistan was not consulted or even informed about the US raid into its territory.
Relations went from bad to worse after that, with the US delaying $800 million in aid. Then in September Admiral Mike Mullen accused Pakistan of supporting and organising the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network which was killing US troops in Afghanistan.
Islamabad hit back and accused NATO of deliberately killing 24 Pakistani soldiers in an air strike near the Afghan border in November, after which Pakistan refused to allow US troops to be supplied by convoys crossing into Afghanistan.
Last Monday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani admitted the obvious, that there was no trust between the US and Pakistan.
He said: ‘Yes there is a credibility gap, we are working together and still we don’t trust each other. I think we have to improve our relationship so that for better results, we should have more confidence in each other.’
As to whether Pakistan thought that the drone and manned air strikes were ‘pre-planned and deliberate’, Gilani said: ‘Apparently, yes. There’s an internal inquiry being conducted. We are waiting for the results.’
Commenting on the fact that President Obama had not apologised for the drone and other attacks, Gilani said: ‘Sorry doesn’t bring dead men back to life. Therefore we want to set new rules of engagement and cooperation with the United States.’ Meanwhile, the blockade to stop NATO convoys into Afghanistan is to continue ‘until the new rules of engagement are settled’. Gilani refused to rule out closing Pakistani airspace in its entirety to the US.
The bulk of US supplies for its troops in Afghanistan passes through Pakistan. The other route is through Russia. However, relations between the US and Russia are also worsening on a daily basis. Russia’s envoy to NATO, Rogozin, said on Monday that ‘They have bombed Iraq, they have crushed Libya, they are closing in on Syria, they have trampled the people of Yugoslavia under their feet, but they are thinking about Russia, and they are waiting for every moment when they could use our country’s weakness.’
If the ruling Stalinist bureaucracy is serious about checking US power, there is one certain way to begin it. That is to join hands with Pakistan and halt all US supplies for its troops in Afghanistan passing through Russia. The US would have no alternative but to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, bringing massive relief to the region.