What the NATO Summit achieved

Published: May 23, 2012

The Pakistanis came, they didn’t quite conquer, and now they’re leaving. At the end of the day, the NATO Summit in Chicago produced no news, and yet there was much to report.

With hundreds of media personnel camped at the massive media centre at McCormick Place, the venue of the summit, the subject of the day remained Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reporters tried to work out whether Pakistan would announce the re-opening of the supply routes, an issue that has been raised in nearly every press conference that took place during the summit.

All that work really was in vain – Pakistan had never said they would announce the opening, and US officials made it clear that they didn’t expect any such announcement to take place either.

And when the first major meeting took place, it seemed like things might go well after all. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to be in a good mood when she greeted the Pakistani president before the meeting, and, perhaps referring to the unseasonably warm weather, said, “We ordered the weather exactly for you.”

On Afghanistan, it was a predictable conclusion – Nato and partner countries reaffirmed their commitment to the country, and even with France’s insistence that they would withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, they publicly announced they were on track to hand over power to Afghanistan forces by 2014.

For Pakistan, it was an inauspicious start to begin with. While they still got over their jet lag, US press reports said that President Obama refused to meet with President Zardari, over Pakistan’s refusal to re-open the Nato supply routes; that Pakistan was still haggling over the rates per container and that Pakistan would have to face an icy reception.

Then, Pakistan cancelled its meeting with the Nato Secretary General 15 minutes before it was to begin, owing to flight delays. The US and Pakistani presidents did meet on the second day, but in two brief encounters on the sidelines of the summit. But by the end of the summit, Pakistani officials seemed upbeat, with Foreign Minister Khar dubbing the visit as a very, very successful one.

And for the Pakistani delegation, a key factor remained the domestic situation and national politics. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar did not seem amused at how they had been accused of striking a secret deal on the supply routes, and a Pakistani official said that they were concerned about how the trip would play back at home. At a press conference at the end of the summit, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman said, “Pakistan’s national interest cannot be traded for positive feedback at conferences.”

How that delicate balance between national interest and international pressure plays out is something that looks like it’ll be worked out in closed-door meetings, but in the public sphere, the inevitable negative feedback might just overshadow national interest.

Read more by Huma here, or follow her on Twitter @HumaImtiaz

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Huma Imtiaz

A correspondent for The Express Tribune based in Washington DC

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Gillani

    A very well composed article. Brilliant.Recommend

  • Err

    What the summit achieved is further humiliation being heaped upon Pakistan. Seriously this is how these ungratelfully NATO countries throw a tantrum over the blockage of supplies over something which is a very valid objection of Pakistan i.e. the brazen killings of our 24 soldiers. Over the past 10 years, Pakistan h as like doormat fullfilled every whim of the Americans and assisted in the WoT despite the high cost of civilians and military lives, the battered economy and becoming a regular target of militant backlash, and these people cannot even muster an apology to us?These people can apologise to Shahrukh Khan and the Afghanis for the messups but not us? Obama said he wouldn’t paper over cracks, which was a pretty immature remark on his part. What does the he think we are – a blot of ink of ink on the world map? This is going to backfire badly in the long run, and even if they reach a deal, the last six months have only deepened the rift and animosity amongst the general public, the US has hit the final nail in the coffin and we are just going to sit back and smugly watch them sink in Afghanistan!Recommend

  • Riaz

    What was the point of this? Hardly anything new hereRecommend

  • Musthaq Ahmed

    NATO summit was seized with one important issue that provoked Russia as nothing else did.
    NATO decided to put Europe under missile shield in two years to come. Already one early warning system based in the very Islamic Turkey is linked with a US cruiser in Mediterranean and with command centre in Rheinland-Pfalz Germany. The details are quite tantalizing and the whole effort hints at a tectonic movement in military affairs of the world.
    Russian deputy Defence Minister Anatoli Antonov warned that the system will disturb the strategic balance.
    Further an empowered committee signed a deal with defence industry about AGS , ie to link bombers with drone surveillance.This is the outcome of Libyan experience where they had to rely on erratic rebels. NATO further identified twenty military projects to weave its strength upon.
    Afghanistan naturally pales before this clash of titans. Yet it was on the agenda. The central theme was withdrawl of massive NATO equipment(120.000 containers sent in) through Uzbekistan and its subsequent transport by rail to lithuanian port Klaipeda . Bundeswehr shall cover the movement towards the border.
    Such equipment is never to be sent through Pakistan at any rate( $5000 per container). Our government wished to clinch the deal to earn some forex . But such hopes were dashed to the ground.
    Nothing happened in Chicago ?Recommend

  • http://lahore asim

    rubbish article.
    poor work.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    @Err:

    The way you want NATO Countries to understand how you feel and your desire for them to put themselves in your shoes, why don’t you do that yourself?

    WoT was not imposed on Pakistan. Pakistan could’ve not provided the supply routes in the first place and nipped everything in the bud. But, Pakistan did provide the routes under the understanding that Pakistan with NATO and the free world in bringing justice to the attackers of 9/11.

    Yes, US killed 24 soldiers(Obviously a case of friendly fire), but how many soldiers have died from attacks from Haqqani groups in Afghanistan who take shelter in supposedly sovereign Territory of Pakistan?

    You say thousands have died civilians and military personnel have died in Pakistan in the past decade, true. But, how is that US’s fault? Are US funding these groups or arming them or giving them shelter in their Territory? No.

    So, the casualties on the Pakistani side are purely because Pakistani security agencies are inept, even though they eat up a bulk of the Pakistani budget.

    You supported the Mujahideens even after the Soviet war and even sent them into Afghanistan. This is just blowback from that era. Even today Pakistan is hesitant or unable to convict many Terrorists, so you bet your money that Terrorism will continue in Pakistan even after America withdraws. People will die even after the Afghan war comes to an end. Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    @Author,

    You expected Pakistan to achieve something in the summit?

    If you take the supply routes out of the equation, Pakistan hardly matters in Afghanistan, that is to contribute positively.

    Now, that Pakistan had stopped the routes, it was not considered important enough to be called to the summit. So, there you have it.

    If you consider the safe havens the Terrorists enjoy or are allowed to enjoy, you can say Pakistan is a negative contributor to the Afghan war. If allows groups like the Haqqanis to launch attacks from supposedly sovereign territory of Pakistan.

    The lessons of the past 6 months are surely important: Pakistan is vilified by the World capitals all over. After 2014, Pakistan will be a net negative contributor to the Afghan war and actions will be taken, Pakistan will be brought to justice by the NATO, who form well more than 60% of the World GDP.

    I hear sanction bells!!!Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    What the NATO Summit achieved – Title
    more baistee for the “closest ally” in war of terror ?Recommend