Friday, December 16, 2011

A couple days ago, Pakistan floated the idea of charging millions of dollars in taxes to allow NATO supply trucks to cross Pakistan in order to resupply troops in Afghanistan. This is in relation to the NATO bombing of a Pakistani post that resulted in the deaths of Pakistani soldiers.

This move is in some ways understandable from the Pakistani point of view. The US is unpopular among the population, and the NATO bombing makes it hard for the government of Pakistan to be seen to support the US. Asking the US to pay high taxes for shipping supplies through Pakistan is a move which will gain favor with the Pakistani population. However, this also just a move to try to get more money out of the US, money used by the Pakistani security services.

Since 2002 the US has given Pakistan over 20 billion US dollars in aid, much of this going to the security services. While this is supposed to be used by Pakistan to aid in the War on Terror, it is thought that much of it goes to groups in Kashmir or to support the army guarding against India. The payment of this has been brought into question since the discovery of Osama bin Laden. Pakistan knows how important the supply routes through its territory are to the US. They feel they can either get more money, or get the security money that the US might withhold.

Currently, the US is stuck in a security trap with Pakistan. Pakistan needs the US money, and the US is worried that if Pakistan can’t afford to secure itself, it might be taken over by extremists or that Pakistan will not be able to protect its nuclear weapons. Pakistan knows this. Should the new taxes be demanded, they could be accepted but deducted from what the US gives in aid to Pakistan. Pakistan should also be reminded that the US is due to pull out of Pakistan in a few years. While Pakistani security will remain a concern to the US, the supply routes will no longer be needed. The supply routes will cease to be a bargaining chip.

The US should continue its drone actions and anti-terror actions in Pakistan. Pakistan should be notified that if it cannot control its territory, the US will. The US should let Pakistan know that it cannot continue to pick the good and bad terrorists. More money should be offered if they can capture and provide intelligence on more terrorists.

In the long run, it looks like the US will have to remain in this relationship with Pakistan. The US needs Pakistan to not give in to its radicals, and Pakistan wants the money. The challenge will be how to incentivize Pakistan to see its radicals as its threat rather than India.

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