By Yasmeen Ali
Lahore -- US Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), the chair and ranking minority member respectively of the Senate Armed Services Committee, say the US must not pay $5000 per truck as demanded by Pakistan, for supplies being shipped through this country to American troops in Afghanistan. McCain went further, calling the Pakistni demand "extortion."
He also stated, on the TV show "The Cable," that "We can't look at aid in that light. It's now becoming a matter of principle".
I love it!
Extortion, dear Sen. McCain, is defined as the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value through the abuse of one's office or authority.
Is it the first time US would be paying for transit of NATO supplies? They have long been paying an average of about $250 a truck for transit, as a senior US official has stated in a report by David S. Cloud in the Los Angeles Times published May 19th.
So the question dear Sen. McCain, is not about principle but rather about principal. The question could have been one of principle had the US not been paying anything at all, and then one fine day, Pakistan had woken up to the idea of"what did you say...ah yes"extortion. The question here though, is simply about the amount.
Let us step back a moment and consider the example of a shopkeeper selling goods--goods that someone needs desperately to buy. The shopkeeper sets a price. But the consumer, a sly, manipulating piece of work, tries everything within his power -- public protest, a smear campaign in the neighborhood, anonymous phone threats to burn down the shop -- to make the shopkeeper lower the price. The shopkeeper , a normally docile man--is obstinate this once though. He refuses to succumb to the consumer's pressure tactics.
Who is the extortionist here: the shopkeeper or the shopper?
Maybe McCain, in his youthful exuberance, forgot that the NATO supply route to Afghanistan via Pakistan has damaged the country's road infrastructure to the tune of 100 billion rupees over the last 10 years, as reported in the Pakistani newspaper The Nation.
Talking of principles is inappropriate when one has been on a killing spree, you know, and the US has been on one, killing Pakistani civilians, including children and older people -- the more the merrier. Talking of principles doesn't work when you are invading one country after another, including psumptive allies. Talking of principles is a joke when a CIA agent or contract employee working illegally under cover as a consular employee can murder two people and then escape punishment and leave the country thanks to the very Shariah Laws? routinely condemned in the US. Talking of principles is meaningless when US can decide to have its military unilaterally attack and murder Osama Bin Laden inside Pakistan without permission of the Pakistani government. And in case you missed it my dear Sen. McCain, we are not the only ones pointing out your country's lack of principles here. Amnesty International, in a recent report, criticized the USA for its use of lethal force, and particularly for the "unlawful" killing of Bin Laden in a clandestine US commando raid inside Pakistan last May. "The US administration made clear that the operation had been conducted under the US theory of a global armed conflict between the USA and Al-Qaeda under which the USA does not recognize the applicability of international human rights law," it said in its annual report. "In the absence of further clarification from the US authorities, the killing of Osama bin Laden would appear to have been unlawful," it said. Amnesty said a request for clarification over an apparent US drone strike in Yemen last September that killed US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, his Al-Qaeda co-conspirator Samir Khan and at least two others had also gone unanswered.
Of all people, Sen. McCain, you would seem to be the last one who should be complaining about a country resorting to extortion. As I recall, you were a pilot of a US Navy fighter/bomber, and were shot down while bombing dikes, hospitals, schools and other illegal targets in North Vietnam, which makes you a war criminal in a criminal war of aggression by the US in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, the bombing campaign during which you were shot down and made a prisoner of war in Hanoi was actually part of a giant extortion game called Operation Rolling Thunder, a campaign of relentless terror bombing of North Vietnam which operated from 1966-68, and which was deliberateluy designed to pressure --extort if you will -- the North Vietnamese government to stop backing the Viet Cong resistance in the south of the country.
I thoroughly enjoyed your diatribe, Sen. McCain, but obviously, you have a lot of growing up yet to do!
The free (almost) ride for US war materiel through Pakistan has gone on for years, Sen. McCain, but there's no such thing in this world as a free lunch, is there? You had a great party while it lasted, but I guess it's over.
And if you still feel we are extortionists, guess what? We are proud of it!
As for the Pakistan Government, I have this to say:
Well done for developing a spine!