The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

Levin and McCain: Don’t pay Pakistan exorbitant trucking fees

The United States should not pay upwards of $5,000 for each truck Pakistan lets through to Afghanistan to aid the war effort, both leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee told The Cable today. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met at this weekend’s NATO summit in Chicago and President ...

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The United States should not pay upwards of $5,000 for each truck Pakistan lets through to Afghanistan to aid the war effort, both leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee told The Cable today.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met at this weekend's NATO summit in Chicago and President Barack Obama met with Zardari in a three-way exchange with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. But the United States and Pakistan were not able to finalize the details of a deal to reopen the ground lines of communication through which the U.S. sends goods to troops in Afghanistan. Those supply lines have been closed since ISAF forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in two border outposts last November and refused to apologize for it.

The United States should not pay upwards of $5,000 for each truck Pakistan lets through to Afghanistan to aid the war effort, both leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee told The Cable today.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met at this weekend’s NATO summit in Chicago and President Barack Obama met with Zardari in a three-way exchange with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. But the United States and Pakistan were not able to finalize the details of a deal to reopen the ground lines of communication through which the U.S. sends goods to troops in Afghanistan. Those supply lines have been closed since ISAF forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in two border outposts last November and refused to apologize for it.

One American official told the New York Times that Pakistan wants "upwards of $5,000" for each truck that crosses through its territory, whereas the fee paid by the United States before last November was about $250 per truck.

"I think that’s called extortion," Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Republican John McCain (R-AZ) told The Cable Tuesday. "We can’t look at aid in that light. It’s now becoming a matter of principle."

Senate Armed Services Committee head Carl Levin (D-MI) told The Cable there’s no way the United States should pay Pakistan fees anywhere near that level.

"Whatever the cost of the security has been, we ought to continue whatever level of support that was. This looks to me to be totally inappropriate," he said.

Levin’s committee is working on the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill this week behind closed doors. That bill could contain new restrictions on U.S. aid to Pakistan.

UPDATE: On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed new restrictions on aid to Pakistan in their mark up of the fiscal 2013 State and foreign ops appropriations bill. The bill would withhold all counterinsurgency funds for Pakistan until the Pakistani government reopens the cargo supply lines to Afghanistan.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

More from Foreign Policy

U.S. President Joe Biden listens to remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on May 19.
U.S. President Joe Biden listens to remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on May 19.

Russia’s Defeat Would Be America’s Problem

Victory in Ukraine could easily mean hubris in Washington.

Russian and Belarusian troops take part in joint military exercises.
Russian and Belarusian troops take part in joint military exercises.

Russia’s Stripped Its Western Borders to Feed the Fight in Ukraine

But Finland and the Baltic states are still leery of Moscow’s long-term designs.

Electricity pylons are shown under cloudy skies during rainfall near Romanel-sur-Lausanne, Switzerland, on Sept. 15.
Electricity pylons are shown under cloudy skies during rainfall near Romanel-sur-Lausanne, Switzerland, on Sept. 15.

Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Destroying the Multipolar World

The EU and Russia are losing their competitive edge. That leaves the United States and China to duke it out.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces new European Union energy policies at the bloc’s headquarters in Brussels, on Sept. 7.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces new European Union energy policies at the bloc’s headquarters in Brussels, on Sept. 7.

With Winter Coming, Europe Is Walking Off a Cliff

Europeans won’t escape their energy crisis as long as ideology trumps basic math.