In his interview today with ABC’s “This Week,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta suggested that the US and Pakistan are still far apart on a deal for reopening the border into occupied Afghanistan, accusing Pakistan of price gouging by demanding more money for protecting the convoys.
“We’re not about to get gouged in the price. We want a fair price,” Panetta insisted, adding that Pakistan has cost the US money already by closing the border and forcing it to use the more expensive northern route.
Pakistan closed the border to NATO supplies on November 26 in response to a US attack on two Pakistani military bases, which killed 24 people. Pakistan’s parliament initially conditioned reopening the border on the US ending drone strikes and apologizing for the attacks. The US has refused to end the strikes and is only “considering” the apology.
Apparently giving up on that, Pakistan’s government was prepared to reopen the route for a $1,800 per truck fee. Before November the US was paying only $250 per truck, and seems content to use the northern route, even if it costs dramatically more in the long run, to avoid the “price gouging.”