The South Asia Channel

Zardari to attend NATO summit on Afghanistan

Better late than never: The spokesman for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Tuesday that NATO had extended an invitation to Pakistan to attend this weekend’s summit in Chicago, as officials from both the United States and Pakistan indicated that the two countries are close to finding an agreement on reopening the NATO ground supply routes ...

STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images
STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Better late than never: The spokesman for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Tuesday that NATO had extended an invitation to Pakistan to attend this weekend’s summit in Chicago, as officials from both the United States and Pakistan indicated that the two countries are close to finding an agreement on reopening the NATO ground supply routes to Afghanistan (NYTAPReutersAFP). Hours after NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen invited Zardari to the summit, the Pakistani Cabinet’s Defense Committee gave the government the green light to lift the blockade on the shipment of NATO supplies through the country (ETDawnDT).

However, the reopening of the ground routes would come with a new fee that is expected to cost the United States another $1 million per day (McClatchy). The Pakistani and U.S. governments are not the only stakeholders in this likely development; many Pakistani traders made a living selling looted goods from NATO trucks, and local militants obtain weapons and ammunition when they attack the containers (Post).

At least two people were killed and several injured in Karachi on Wednesday in two separate incidents of apparent political violence, a day after seven people were shot dead across the city (DawnET). Security forces killed nine militants while shelling their hideout in Orakzai Agency on Tuesday (Dawn). The Taliban released a video on Wednesday of their April 15 attack on the Bannu Central Jail in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, during which almost 400 prisoners were able to escape (ETDT).

Money woes

As Europe faces a weakened economy and is forced to implement austerity cuts across the board, the issue of funding is likely to play a critical role at the summit as NATO member states attempt to negotiate the amount of aid Afghanistan will receive after the majority of troops withdraw in 2014 (Reuters). Afghanistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin said Tuesday that Afghanistan is confident that the United States will not only provide the bulk of the $4.1 billion annual budget that officials are expected to endorse at the NATO summit, but will also contribute more in order to expand the number of security forces in the country (Guardian).

Newly elected French president Francois Hollande has already been forced to renege on his campaign promise to pull all French troops out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, forced by on-the-ground necessities to at least maintain a force of hundreds of military trainers and 150 paramilitary troops (Post). The training mission that is critical to NATO’s strategy in Afghanistan is facing a significant threat, though, as the number of "green on blue" attacks on coalition service members by Afghan security forces has risen rapidly in recent months (NYT). Bonus read: The New America Foundation maintains a database of all reported green on blue attacks (NAF).

Game, set, match

Peshawar’s first professional tennis tournament since 2002 began this week, with top seeds Aqeel Khan and Yasir Khan starting out strong with straight-set wins over their opponents (ET). This is the first time that Peshawar — better known for its bomb blasts than for its tennis matches — has ever held a national championship tournament.

 Jennifer Rowland

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