'US-dependent Pak can't play 'trump card' of blocking NATO supplies for long': Expert

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Islamabad, Oct 2 (ANI): Although Pakistan has blocked NATO supply trucks at a checkpoint bordering Afghanistan in retaliation against the US forces-led cross-border air strikes into its territory, experts are of the view that the Asian nation cannot afford to extend the closure for long, and it will have to relent soon.

US officials predict the border crossing- one of two Pakistani routes used by NATO to move its supplies into Afghanistan- will reopen soon, as the Pakistani government, largely dependent on the US and the West, has no other choice, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Analysts also agree that Pakistan will have to open the blocked route, adding that the move to close the border crossing had exposed the government's inability to react strongly towards violations of its sovereignty.

"They don't have too many cards to play without hurting themselves," said Marvin Weinbaum, a former State Department Pakistan expert now at the Middle East Institute in Washington. "Closing border crossings used by the US "in some ways is their trump card, but they are not really going to play it."

"They know fully well that if they persevered with this, they'd be putting the whole relationship with the US in jeopardy," he added.

Weinbaum said that the key now would be some US effort allowing Pakistan to "walk back" from the border closing while saving face.

"If they (the government) hadn't shown some backbone here it could have really been devastating for them," he says. "But now they will have to walk back on this, and the key will be the way they do it... The US can help them do that," he stated..

The three Pakistani army men were killed in an early morning raid on Thursday, in an air strike by NATO helicopters at a military post, 200 metres inside the Pakistani border in Kurram Agency.

This was their fourth aerial violation of Pakistani territory in less than a week, but the first in which soldiers were killed.

Reacting to the incident, Pakistan had suspended supply convoys along the Khyber Pass route, which links Peshawar in Pakistan with Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, and lodged a protest with the NATO command in Brussels, demanding an apology. (ANI)

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