US warns Pakistan of ‘multiple repercussions’
Pakistan Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar has hinted at mounting pressure on the government to reopen the supply routes.
Islamabad: The US has now threatened Pakistan with ‘multiple repercussions’, if the six-month-long blockade of NATO supplies is not lifted, Pakistani officials have said.
According to sources, the implications include a halt in US assistance for the country’s fragile economy and squeezing the political space available to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party by relying on other political groups.
“During the meetings Marc Grossman recently had with Pakistani officials, it was obvious that the US was running out of patience,” a Pakistani official told The Express Tribune.
“A message has been conveyed at the highest level that if the government cannot take a decision regarding NATO supplies, the US will rely on Nawaz Sharif,” he added. His claim, however, could not be independently verified.
The official added that the Obama administration was increasingly concerned over the delay in the reopening of the vital NATO supply routes for foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan.
Last month, the country’s Parliament announced new terms of engagement that seek an unconditional apology from the US over the Salala incident.
Initially, Washington agreed to accept the demand but due to a delay in the passage of the new recommendations, coupled with domestic compulsions of President Barack Obama, the US is now reluctant to take such a step.
A PPP lawmaker acknowledged that the government was in a fix on how to move forward after the US hardened its stance.
“There is now a growing realisation that it was a mistake to ask the Parliament to formulate new foreign policy guidelines,” said the lawmaker.
Pakistan Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar also hinted at mounting pressure on the government to reopen the supply routes. He said Pakistan could face economic sanctions if it did not unplug the routes.
The US embassy, however, denied Washington conveying any threats to Islamabad.
“The UN wants NATO supplies to reopen, the US wants NATO supplies to reopen, but that should not be characterised as a threat,” said the embassy spokesperson.