Should Pakistan put a price tag on lines of communication, minister asks US

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir asked the United States whether Pakistan should put a price tag on the Ground Line of Communications (GLOCs) and Air Line of Communications (ALOCs) which averages 314 daily with use of ports and air bases and other mutual communications.
The minister was giving a policy statement in the National Assembly, where he gave an overarching picture of the country’s Defence and foreign policy.
Dastagir stated that the way forward for the Pak-US relations was not through threats, notices and suspension of support.
“This is Pakistani foreign policy and we have cleared safe havens from our country and are also removing the remnants but we are equally determined that the Afghan war will not be fought on Pakistani soil,” he said.
The minister added that it was convenient for the US to blame Pakistan for its failure in pacifying Afghanistan, even though Washington had not pursued internal reconciliation seriously and instead the American fingers were on kill button.
“The Trump administration has suspended strategic level dialogue with Pakistan, yet complains of failure of high level of communication which is bound to fail until backed up by consistent dialogue at the working level,” the minister said.
Dastagir further told the assembly that it was time for courteous but ruthlessly candid dialogue between both the countries with everything on the table.
The minister reminded the US of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan’s armed forces and civilians and asked if we should put a price tag on it.
He also asked the Afghan government and the US that should Pakistan also put a price tag for the three million Afghan refugees that it continues to host.
Sharing his party’s line, he said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had started recalibration of Pakistan’s Defence and regional policy, and one of the new calibration was its recent relationship with Russia.
“An opening has recently been achieved with Iran. The recent visit of chief of army staff has initiated a conversation that has been followed up by meetings of the two national security advisers.”


While commenting about India, the minister stated that unremittingly hostile and anti-Pakistan stance taken by the current Indian government had drastically reduced the space for any advocacy of peace.
“The escalation of Indian bombing on the Line of Control (LoC) has been matched with escalation in anti-Pakistan rhetoric which often descends to baiting and bashing,” he told the lawmakers.

Confusing stance

Meanwhile, right after the minister ended his statement, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and other parties termed the stance “confusing, flexible and vague.”
PPP’s Naveed Qamar said the statement was harsh suggesting “we should tread carefully before raising the temperature.” He said the US could be irresponsible in the prevailing situation but Pakistan cannot afford to act the same way. “We also should know who is speaking for Pakistan, foreign office, civilian government or general headquarters,” he asked.
PTI’s chief whip of the house Shireen Mazari said the statement had brought more confusion than clarity and asked why there was no rejection of the Indian army chief’s statement.
She also castigated the government for hosting the US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Alice Wells.
“You are meeting a mid-ranking US official while it [US] has put you on a watchlist,” she said, adding GLOCs and ALOCs should be shut down as Pakistan was providing the facility for free.