“Nani ny Khasam kia bura kya, kar k chor dya aor bura kya”
It was a bad decision to stop NATO supplies. It was much worse to decide to resume them. In bargaining, you always have several fallback positions. You take a step back when you make a gain. If you adopt a take-it-or-leave-it position, espe-cially with a major power, you may end up losing everything. Let us see how we should have played the game.
As soon as the report about the Salala attack comes, the NATO commander in Afghanistan gets a stern call. “Decide to pay one million dollars to the family of every soldier killed. Then come here and apologize to their families.”
“It is too much to ask,” the commander protests.”
“What you will be paying will be equal to the cost of keeping an American soldier in Afghanistan for just one year. Here a soldier lost his life.”
“I shall talk to the relevant people and come back to you.”
“Do it soon or else…” The sentence is left incomplete.
The NATO commander comes to GHQ, apologizes to the families of martyrs present there. Then he tells them that compensation money has been transferred to their bank accounts. He also apologizes to the country and the army for what happened. He goes back, believing that the Salala incident was over. He was wrong.
Foreign Office issues a public warning that all American nationals having a visa without full security clearance must apply for a new one. Meanwhile, they must leave the country immediately and wait for a decision. Anybody not comply-ing with the instruction will be jailed for illegal entry and stay.
Much worse comes soon after. The port authorities and customs get verbal instructions to delay NATO supplies and Afghan imports so much that the traffic comes to half of the normal. If anybody asks the reason for delay, tell him that massive smuggling has been going on and contraband goods are also passing through. We have to unload containers and packages and examine the contents carefully before release. To reduce delays, we shall recruit more staff and install sophisticated scanners. However, that will take quite some time.
The US ambassador rushes to the President and the Prime Minister for inter-vention. They say they know nothing about it. (They really are not in the loop.) Newspapers and television news channels are told not to give much coverage to the news about NATO supplies, nor discuss it in columns and talk shows. Najam Sethi and his ilk, the American mouthpieces, are asked to keep their mouth shut.
After Americans realize what is going on, calls start coming from NATO, Central Command and the Pentagon. Generals want to come over and discuss but are told that the top command here is busy and can’t see them. UK and other friendly countries are asked to approach but they too get a polite refusal. Finally, the Americans decide to come to terms.
“What do you really want?”
“Compensation for the loss of life and property, damage to infrastructure and harm caused to the economy and the people.”
They come back with an offer of a few billion dollars. “Do more,” they are told. They increase the amount somewhat but again get the same demand, “Do more.” Finally, they ask for a meeting to give their best offer. It is 10 billion dol-lars.
“Now, that will be for the current year. We want similar amount for every year since you invaded Afghanistan. It will be just about 10 percent of what you have been spending in Afghanistan every year.”
“That is outrageous!” The Americans walk out in a huff.
Then threats start coming from various sides, the US Administration, the Pentagon, the Congress, the US media, allies, the whole lot. There is talk of sanc-tions of all types, even military attacks.
China assures that it will not allow any serious resolution to pass through the UN Security Council. On the other side, a word is passed on: How about Iran “stealing” some of our nukes across the border and passing on to Hizbullah for dropping by suicide bombers on Israel? The mere thought scares the hell out of Americans, particularly the Jewish. They offer to negotiate seriously, realizing that they must find a way out. “Now they are talking,” our side thinks.
They offer 20 billion dollars, while ours come down a little from 100 bil-lions. It goes on until around the halfway point, when our side makes its final offer. “The puppets that you have been imposing on us for decades had got us into over 60 billion dollars of foreign debt. If you agree to clear it, we shall be satisfied.”
“But that is a large sum. Our Congress may not approve it.”
“Think rationally. We don’t ask you to pay us. We only want you to assume the debt on our behalf. Every loan has a different schedule and varying install-ments. You tell the lenders that you will pay as and when amounts are due. Some of them may give you better terms. Some may even write off. It will come to a small amount every year. You can take the money out of your Afghanistan budg-et.”
“We may work out something soon.” When they return, papers are signed in a pleasant atmosphere. Before shaking hands, our side makes one final demand. “Now that all foreign debt has been cleared, your present puppets may go again on a borrowing binge. So, tell Zardari that his time is up. He should ask Prime Minis-ter and three Chief Ministers to dissolve their Assemblies and then resign them-selves. The fourth one will also follow them. Then Zardari should hand in his own resignation. We have members of the interim governments ready to take over, both here and in provinces.”
“We shall do that too.”
“We thought you people were always ready to do our bidding, without caring about your own national interests,” admits the chief American negotiator. “Now we know better!”