Pak not invited to NATO summit

Brussels/Washington—US and NATO in a bid to punish Pakistan for blocking NATO supply route have decided against inviting Pakistan to the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago. According to reports, Pakistan’s chances of attending the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago, on May 20 and 21, have died down following a deadlock in Pak-US relations.

Both countries have adopted tough positions on their respective demands and a resolution in the immediate future appears highly improbable. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday that Pakistan had not been invited to the upcoming Chicago summit.

Speaking to reporters, Rasmussen asked Pakistan to restore the NATO supply route. “Our supply should be unblocked immediately,” Rasmussen said in reply to a question. The May 20-21 summit will be the biggest NATO summit in history, with more than 60 countries and organizations represented.

The US administration had previously termed Pakistan s participation in the Chicago summit as critical for the endgame in Afghanistan. Several American officials had repeatedly urged the Pakistani leadership to participate in the Chicago summit for lasting peace and stability in the region. However, the expectations on both sides took a nosedive when bilateral relations hit a new low following the NATO attack on Salala check-post on November 26 last year, which resulted in killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan suspended the NATO supply routes in protest and has demanded an apology from the US for resumption of these routes.

It is reliably learnt that the US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marc Grossman has made an effort to convince Pakistan for resuming NATO supply routes and attend the Chicago summit. The remaining contentious issues, he advocated, could be discussed simultaneously as the US was ready to listen and address “genuine” Pakistani concerns. However, the talks reached a stalemate when the Pakistani leadership, following the extensive parliamentary review, conveyed to the US administration in plain words that nothing short of an apology on the Salala incident was acceptable before moving forward on rebuilding trust and bilateral relationship.

Even the offer made by Marc Grossman for releasing Pakistan s outstanding Coalition Support Fund (CSF) worth $1.2 billion, which has been withheld since December 2010, in case the country agreed to re-open supply routes, could not achieve the desired ends. Following this apparent deadlock, the US administration has decided against inviting Pakistan to the Chicago summit, in a bid to covey its displeasure on the latter s reluctance to succumb to the American demands. The other purpose of this decision, sources informed, was to make Pakistan realize that critical decisions on Afghanistan could be taken even without Pakistan s participation.

The spokesperson of the US State Department, Victoria Nuland played down the question of inviting Pakistan to Chicago summit. “The guest list is still something that we’re working on, particularly in the context of the ISAF meeting, which will have a larger participation”, she stated while declining to comment when asked about their administration s expectations about Pakistani participation. In an earlier briefing, US Special Representative to NATO, Ivo Daalder, termed Pakistan a very important country for the stability of the region and including Afghanistan. He was responding to a question regarding importance of Pakistan’s participation in the NATO summit as well as the endgame in Afghanistan.

“The issue of which countries are going to be coming to Chicago is still under discussion at NATO, and we hope and expect that those issues will be resolved soon”, Ambassador Daalder said while going to discuss the suspension of ground supply routes, invariably establishing a correlation between the two. “As you know, we are in active bilateral consultations as well with a NATO participation in those consultations on finding ways to open the ground lines of communication through Pakistan into Afghanistan, which have now been closed for about six months,” he pointed out.

“Opening up these ground lines is extremely important for the stability of Afghanistan and the ability for our troops in Afghanistan to have the kinds of resupply of resources that is necessary. Those negotiations are ongoing and we hope they can be completed successfully very soon,” the US envoy hoped. The United States anticipates three results from the summit: An agreement on an interim milestone in 2013 when the International Security Assistance Force’s mission will shift from combat to support for the Afghan national security forces; An agreement on the size, cost and sustainment of the Afghan forces beyond 2014; and a roadmap for NATO’s post-2014 role in Afghanistan.—Online



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