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Strapped for cash, Pakistan has little power over US

Analysis: Pakistan can’t afford to keep major NATO supply route closed for long.
A Pakistani porter has a rest at a market in Rawalpindi. A dire economy means Pakistan has little bargaining power over the United States, which is moving supplies bound for Afghanistan through the country. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — By any account, closing a key NATO supply route into Afghanistan just as a major offensive there gets underway is a bold move and a clear message.

But Pakistan’s decision to shut down the all-important Torkhum border crossing is unlikely to have much of an effect since, according to security analysts, the country is incapable of holding out for any length of time.

Pakistan closed the Torkhum border, one of two key supply routes used by foreign forces fighting the Afghanistan War, last week in retaliation for a series of U.S. aerial strikes in Waziristan on the Pakistani side of the border, which killed at least 60 people, including three Pakistani paramilitary troops, government officials said. Another attack on NATO fuel tankers Wednesday took place on separate route near the southwestern city of Quetta.

Although the closed supply route could be detrimental to the war effort if it remained closed for long, the United States appears unlikely to make any concessions outside of the customary apologies as negotiations reach their seventh day.

“The United States is testing our nerves. It knows that Pakistan cannot keep the route closed for a long period due to its struggling economy,” said Saleem Haider, a retired Pakistani general, who is now an Islamabad-based security analyst.

Read the full story at GlobalPost.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/afghanistan/strapped-cash-pakistan-has-little-power-over-us