"They don't deserve it. What they've done is presumably earned it by the amount of money they've laid out in terms of their anti-terrorist activity and protecting our lines."
-- Carl Levin, (D-Mich)
"Pakistan on a good day is very hard. It is an unreliable ally. You can't trust them, you can't abandon them. The biggest beneficiary is the men and women fighting the war. And I want Pakistan to be stable. And if the money helps them become more stable, good […] If you cut the money off, what leverage do you have? There may come a day when we do that, but not yet."
-- Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [h/t AP]
Sens. Levin and Graham recognize the hard truth. We need Pakistan if we are committed to continuing the war effort in Afghanistan, and they'll persist in demanding our money, to that end. But they don't trust us, and we certainly shouldn't trust them. As we all know, they've proven an incredibly fickle "ally" in the war on terror, and we should expect more of the same moving forward.
However, both senators grudgingly agree that Pakistan should receive more than $1.1 billion in American taxpayer dollars, held up for months until Islamabad received our apology and reopened critical NATO supply lines into Afghanistan.
To be clear, these routes are vital to the NATO war effort in Afghanistan. Both routes originate in Karachi, which is Pakistan's principal port on the Arabian Sea. The first crosses the Khyber Pass, terminating in Kabul, and supplies the north of the country.
The second ends in Kandahar, and supports the south. Together (before their closure in November 2011) these routes transported a vast quantity of the gasoline, provisions and equipment desperately needed in an otherwise hostile and inhospitable environment.
Think about it this way… in 2007, coalition forces were burning up to 575,000 gallons of fuel per day. Fuel storage capacity at our bases in Bagram and Kabul could barely stock a week's worth of petrol, and 80% of that fuel came from Pakistani refineries, along these routes. After their closure, costs skyrocketed -- the U.S. found itself paying up to six times as much to send war supplies to troops in Afghanistan through alternate routes.
Sort of puts Secretary Clinton's apology in perspective.
For his part, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is attempting to cut off future funds to Pakistan -- contingent upon the release of Shakil Afridi, the Pershawari doctor who was imprisoned after assisting U.S. efforts to hunt down Osama bin Laden.
Sen. Paul seems to understand what escapes Sen. Graham; namely, "if you cut the money off, what leverage do we have" isn't really "leverage" when the tax-dollar spigot springs eternal.
Senators Levin and Graham may want to take a page from the Pakistanis' book, because when Islamabad turned the pipeline off, it was only a matter of time until they got their apology.
Now, perhaps, it's time to put our fiscal leverage to use.
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