Despite no agreement being announced during Special Envoy Marc Grossman’s visit to Pakistan last week, Pakistan Today reports that negotiations between Pakistan and the US had continued, and an agreement on transportation of NATO supplies through Pakistan, along with the resumption of the flow of support funding for Pakistan, was to be announced as early as today. Those plans, and the prospects for finalizing an agreement, were disrupted Sunday when the CIA unilaterally restarted drone attacks inside Pakistan, striking a former girls’ school in which Uzbek and Tajik militants were said to be holed up.
Here is how Pakistan Today described the current situation:
Intense negotiations between US Special Envoy Marc Grossman and Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership have finally paved the way for the reopening of blocked NATO supplies and release of arrears under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) by Washington, and a breakthrough in this regard is likely in a day or two, Pakistan Today learnt on Sunday.
This breakthrough is said to be planned for Monday (today) but Sunday’s drone strike in North Waziristan by CIA despite a clear ‘no’ to such attacks by Pakistani parliament has not gone down well with Pakistani authorities and it could impact the process of reconciliation between Islamabad and Washington.
“Ambassador Grossman has left Islamabad but around 10 American officials are still here finalizing a deal on NATO reopening and CSF arrears’ release,” the diplomat said.
A member of the federal cabinet, Sheikh Waqas Akram disclosed that Islamabad and Washington were very close to reaching a deal on NATO supplies and CSF dues’ release.
“Yes that is true, this breakthrough is imminent and it was revealed by Ambassador Grossman himself when he met me and some other parliamentarians in his recent visit to Islamabad,” Akram, the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, said. He said that a breakthrough on NATO supplies and CSF arrears, according to his information was about to take place today (Monday) but the latest drone strike in North Waziristan could again sabotage the reconciliatory efforts.
Akram then placed blame for the drone strike on “hawkish elements” in the US and suggested it was intended to disrupt negotiations:
“It seems that the hawkish elements in US establishment and among the political circles there do not want the improvement of ties between Pakistan and the US,” Akram said.
Leading these “hawkish elements”, of course, is the CIA, which both the Washington Post and New York Times identify as behind the drone strike Sunday. Both papers noted how Sunday’s strike undermines the ongoing negotiations. From the Times: Continue reading