After weeks of negotiations, on July 31, 2012 the United States and Pakistan jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for transporting NATO supplies to and from Afghanistan through Pakistan until the end of 2015. Here are the highlights of the agreement:
1. The Agreement officially ended Pakistan’s seven-month blockade on NATO supply lines in the country. The move came after U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, officially apologized to Pakistan earlier this month for the air raid which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at the Salala checkpoint.
2. The United Sates officially released another 1.1 billion dollars of Coalition Support Funds (CSF) to Pakistan. These State Department funds make up the bulk of U.S. aid to Pakistan. This is the first CSF installment since December 2010.
3. Pakistani officials maintain that the Agreement will not affect the country’s national interests. All cargo will be scanned in the port city of Karachi and at the border crossing points of Chaman and Torkham. Additionally, Pakistan reserves the right to reject certain types of cargo. For example, it has outlawed the transport of weapons. It will, however, allow NATO weapons that are typically transferred to the Afghan National Security Forces for capacity building purposes.
4. Amidst a string of tensions between both countries, the MOU is perceived as a breakthrough in rebuilding U.S.-Pakistan ties. Many perceive an official agreement governing U.S.- Pakistan counter-terrorism cooperation as a significant step toward a more transparent relationship between both countries. Shortly after the signing of the memorandum, Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani met in Rawalpindi with General John Allen, chief of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan. According to Kayani, “[the meeting] helped towards improving strategic and operational understanding between the Pakistan military and ISAF.” The meeting suggests growing cooperation between the Pakistan military and the ISAF forces in Afghanistan.
5. According to an official statement by U.S. Embassy spokesperson, Mark Stroh, the Agreement was undertaken by the United States to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty. Stroh’s comments come in light of numerous U.S. violations of Pakistani sovereignty, including drone attacks, the Abottabad raid, and accidental air strike,s such as the Salala raid.