ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan and the United States make some headway in bilateral talks, Islamabad’s demand for $5,000 per container for transporting goods to Afghanistan through its territory remains the biggest stumbling block.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has ruled out paying Pakistan this amount, but officials familiar with the talks say Islamabad’s demand is “neither irrational nor out of the blue.”
The supplies made to Isaf and Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan have ruined Pakistan’s road infrastructure over the last nine years of cooperation, they added.
The infrastructure was used for eight years without paying any charges. In the ninth year, the US started paying a nominal handling fee of $220 per container to National Logistic Cell – the army’s logistics arm, officials said. Terming Pakistan’s demand as “extortion,” Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential aspirant, had claimed that the US was paying $250 per container to Pakistan.
The US can’t just continue to not acknowledge the cost its wars have on other countries and expect unconditional support without anything in return.
Roads in Pakistan can withstand ten years of normal traffic, but a single NATO container causes the damage of 1500-2000 cars. This has resulted in $1.6 billion worth of damage to Pakistan’s infrastructure, not to mention the costs incurred from scanning, inspection and examination of the supplies, environmental impact, and port services. Also worth noting: the alternate route would cost double the amount Pakistan is asking.