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Chicago Summit on Afghanistan

Chicago summit between Obama, NATO, G8, Afghan stakeholders was seen as a pre-election exercise. NATO passage through Pakistan was one of the items. The inside story.

Obama needs to show some 'successes' before election day  |  Cartoonist Sabir Nazar; source & courtesy - pakistantoday.com.pk  |  Click for image.

Obama needs to show some ‘successes’ before election day | Cartoonist Sabir Nazar; source & courtesy – pakistantoday.com.pk | Click for image.

Probably unprecedented, but 4 of 5 UN-Veto members will go through a government change process in April 2012-March 2012 period. In the same period, of the 8 nuclear powers (P5+India, Pakistan and Israel), 5 will see a government change process. In this process, some amount of uncertainty has been injected in global affairs.

Analysts seem to think that the recent NATO+G8+Afghanistan summit in Chicago, called by Obama was an election exercise. The NATO paasage to Afghanistan through Pakistan was a one of the items on this list. A former Pakistani diplomat ‘reveals’ all.

Pakistan is

a country whose leadership – of any stripes, civil or military – has traditionally taken great pride in being the most steadfast ally of the US. Pakistan’s first military dictator and “Bonaparte”, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, boasted in his autobiography Friends not Masters that Washington would never find a friend more trustworthy than Pakistan.

However, relations between the two “all-weather friends and allies” have been in a deep chill since the fateful US raid and there are few signs of a warming. All the same, being scripted out of Chicago was deemed, in Islamabad’s power corridors, as an ultimate insult that could doom relations forever.

So the Pakistanis went scampering to their Turkish friends – with whom bonds of camaraderie and fraternity pre-date the birth of Pakistan in 1947. The Turks are also cozy with the Americans and have been part of the NATO brigade in Afghanistan. There couldn’t be a more effective and credible middleman than Turkey to bail Pakistan out of the very tight corner in which they seem to have painted themselves.

Frantic phone calls to President Abdullah Gul, who led the Turkish team to Chicago, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Pakistan as these lines are being written and who is receiving a rapturous welcome, melted the ice in Washington and Brussels – Zardari was given the green-light to board a plane for Chicago.

The ice, however, didn’t simply melt because the Turks had waved a magic wand. The Pakistanis assured their Turkish interlocutors – who then relayed the message to Washington – that the Pakistanis were ready to play ball and revive transit facilities for NATO. This was interpreted as a conciliatory gesture and enough for the welcome mat to be rolled out.

It was anticipated that Pakistan would have lifted the ban before Zardari boarded his flight to Chicago. But that wasn’t to be, and he landed without bearing the gift everybody was expecting.

In obvious pique, Obama refused to meet Zardari one-on-one, while he bestowed that favor on Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai. That was like rubbing salt into the Pakistani wound.

NATO secretary general added his own insult to the Pakistani injury when he, too, wriggled out of a planned one-on-one meeting with Zardari claiming “scheduling problems”. (via Asia Times Online :: Pakistan hoist by its own petard).

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