Connect to share and comment

Strapped for cash, Pakistan has little power over US

Analysis: Pakistan can’t afford to keep major NATO supply route closed for long.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, are meeting in Brussles in a bid to resolve the crisis.

About 80 percent of all non-lethal supplies — including food, clothing, military vehicles and fuel — destined for Afghanistan move through the northwestern Torkhum and southeastern Chaman borders, giving Pakistan a substantial bargaining chip in negotiations with the United States.

It’s a bargaining chip, however, that Pakistan can little afford to use.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the government had closed the border in response to immense public pressure after anger erupted over the U.S. drone attacks and the sentencing in a U.S. court of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national accused of attacking U.S. soldiers, to 86 years in prison.

“There is no doubt that the closure of the supply route is a result of the masses speaking up,” Haider said. “But unfortunately Pakistan is not in a position to carry on with this for much longer.”

The closing of the border forced long lines of NATO convoys carrying fuel and other essential supplies to idle on the side of roads or return to provincial capitals. Security analysts worried that the situation might give militants an opportunity to strike, which they did earlier this week when they torched three NATO convoys, including one that was just a few miles from Islamabad, the country’s capital.