Pakistan plans to start charging the United States millions of dollars a year for the use of supply routes from that country into Afghanistan, illustrating the deterioration of relations between the countries as the U.S. attempts to wrap up the Afghan War.
Officials told The Washington Examiner they would stand firm on a laundry list of "specific demands," including the added payments, before allowing U.S. access to the roads. The policy is scheduled to be debated Monday during a high-level meeting of the country's legislature in the capital of Islamabad.
"There is no doubt that it will pass," a Pakistani official said. The desire to force more money from the U.S. is embraced by "all political parties of society," he said.
Pakistan also expects the Defense Department to reimburse $2.6 billion they say is owed to them by the U.S.-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials charged that the Coalition Support Funds, as the payments are called, have not been paid in more than 18 months.
The U.S. has provided Pakistan more than $20 billion in military and development aid since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 created the need to traverse the Southwest Asia nation as part of efforts to destroy al Qaeda's stronghold in Afghanistan.
But U.S.-Pakistan relations have eroded since the May attack that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan -- an attack mounted without informing Pakistan for fear the al Qaeda leader would be tipped off. Pakistan also wants an apology for a November border confrontation between U.S. and Afghan soldiers that ended in the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers. After the incident, Pakistan closed major supply routes used by NATO.
Pakistani officials also want the U.S. to halt drone strikes inside the country, which American military officials say have been devastating to al Qaeda and its allies inside Pakistan.
Marc Grossman, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and top American military leaders are expected to travel to Pakistan to discuss re-opening the routes after the parliament comes to a decision on its policy towards the U.S.
The stalemate over the supply routes illustrates the difficulties the U.S. faces in winding up the Afghan War in the face of fear, anger and the maneuvering of leaders in both Pakistan and Afghanistan who are trying to protect their interests after the U.S. departs.
"If (Pakistan's) demands inhibit us from working together effectively ...the terrorists will reestablish themselves again. We don't want to come back one day to something worse," one U.S. military official said.
Sara A. Carter is The Washington Examiner's national security correspondent. She can be reached at email@example.com.