Pakistani officials were not bluffing when they threatened NATO with their lack of cooperation, preventing the entry of supply trucks across the Afghan border today. Considering this is a critical point in the war, every step to stabilize Afghanistan is moot if Pakistan is not on board. These orders coming from the top seem to be retaliation for NATO’s engagement with insurgents on the border which have cost the lives of some Pakistani military personnel.
The Daily Brief from FP has a good overview of the situation in Pakistan but it also mentioned the strain in civil-military relations in the country as one of the factors that has lead to this downward spiral in relations with NATO. The civilian government benefit from being an ally, seen at some level to be a useful partner in dealing with terrorism and instability in that part of the world while the military benefits from the negative perceptions of foreigners, which can be channeled into a lucrative budget and greater control for the security apparatus. The government is hemmed in- crippled by the devastation caused by the recent floods (where the army has a much greater presence) and the foreign aid that creates most of its revenue threatened to be cut. In these circumstances, the defense establishment doesn’t need to do much to regain control. With most people within the country believing that the military and the ISI call the shots, now the international community is being shown a clear sign that this is the case. Preventing NATO supplies from getting to Afghanistan, where an international coalition is trying to secure a country that has been mismanaged and terrorized for decades, is a blatant disregard that Pakistan has for the nations (particularly the United States) that providing it with a lifeline. Sticking to your guns may be worth it when considering punishing the breach of national sovereignty but when its these other countries that are paying your bills, it might be a cause for pause.