Pakistan NATO resupply deal: house of mirrors
Right-wing and Islamist political leaders and activists united under the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (Pakistan Defense Council, DPC) launched a cross-country march from Lahore to Islamabad on July 8 to oppose the resumption of NATO supply lines to Afghanistan through Pakistan. A convoy of some 200 vehicles is accompanying the march of some 8,000. The DPC is made up of several Islamist parties, including the Jamatud Dawa, Ahle Sunnat Waljamat (formerly known as Sipah-e-Sahaba), Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), and Jamat-e-Islami. (Pakistan Observer, July 9; Pakistan Tribune, The Nation, Pakistan, July 8)
Thousands of NATO supply trucks have been waiting at ports in Karachi since Pakistan shut the Afghan border in retaliation for US airstrikes in November that killed the two dozen border troops. The resumption of the supply mission comes after Hillary Clinton crafted a quasi-apology that didn't actually use the word "apology," but did say she was "sorry" for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. She laid the blame for the incident on mistakes made by "both sides." In the new deal, Pakistan will keep the per-truck transit fee at $250, dropping a demand for $5,000 per truck. The Obama administration said it would ask Congress for $1.2 billion in aid to Islamabad for "counterterrorism operations."
Simultaneously, the Obama administration declared Afghanistan to be a "major non-NATO ally"—an action apparently designed to facilitate what AP called "close defense cooperation" (meaning an extended US military presence) "after US combat troops withdraw from the country in 2014" (meaning after another pseudo-withdrawal, with hundreds of Special Forces troops and thousands of private US contractors staying behind). (AP, July 7; NYT, CBC, July 5)