Pakistan reportedly mulls toll tax hike on NATO containers amid Trump rift
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2018-01-11 03:43:34

Pakistan reportedly mulls toll tax hike on NATO containers amid Trump rift

 

Pakistan mulls increasing the toll tax of containers carrying military hardware and weapons for NATO troops in Afghanistan, amid a rift between Islamabad and Washington over the so-called war on terror, local reports say.

Pakistani authorities will likely put in place a 100 to 150 percent raise in the tax.

The Pakistani Ministry of Communication is said to present a revision of the toll tax rate on NATO containers to the prime minister for approval.

The government in Islamabad charges $2,500 per NATO container. The trucks use national highways from the southern port city of Karachi to Torkham and Chaman crossings on the Pakistani-Afghan border.

Islamabad is also mulling charging aeronautical fee to NATO for using Pakistan’s airspace. NATO used Pakistan’s airspace over 350 times per month when the Afghan war was at its peak.

In 2011, Pakistan stopped NATO supplies for several months after an aircraft of the Western military alliance killed over two dozen Pakistani soldiers in an area close to the Afghan border.

Tensions arose in relations between the United States and Pakistan following accusations by US President Donald Trump that Pakistan was harboring “terrorists.” Senior civilian and military officials in Islamabad have vehemently denied the charge. Last week, Trump said in his first tweet of 2018 that Washington had “foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years.” The United States is also withholding $255 million in aid from Pakistan against the backdrop of the souring ties.

On Tuesday, Richard Olson, a former American ambassador to Pakistan, said the Trump administration’s attempt at “humiliating and penalizing” Pakistan for failing to take decisive action against militants is unlikely to work.

Olson, who also served as the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, made the warning in an article published in The New York Times where he assessed the impact of the decision to withhold security assistance to Pakistan.

The harsh truth, Olson added, was that American leverage over Pakistan has been declining. “And as United States aid levels have diminished – reflecting bipartisan unhappiness with Pakistani policy – aid from the Chinese has increased,” he argued, referring to China’s investment of $62 billion in Pakistani infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “Its magnitude and its transformation of parts of Pakistan dwarf anything the United States has ever undertaken.”

“Pakistan, like most countries, reacts very badly to public attempts to force its hand. It is likely to respond by showing how it can truly undercut our position in Afghanistan,” Olson said. “For the past 16 years our military efforts in landlocked Afghanistan have been dependent on transit through and especially overflight of Pakistani territory.”

“The path of the tweet and highly public aid cuts is not a method that will engender success. The United States can address Afghanistan only with a political initiative,” the former American ambassador wrote.

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