Pakistan reopens NATO supply routes after U.S. apology
IRNA – Islamic Republic News Agency
Islamabad, July 4, IRNA — Pakistan on Tuesday announced that it is reopening land routes for NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan, the country’s Information Minister, Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira said.
The decision was taken after U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, apologized
over the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a November airstrike.
The Information Minister told reporters after a meeting of top civilian and military leaders after series of talks between the American and Pakistani officials.
Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, presided over the meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), which was called to exclusively discuss the reopening of the supply routes.
Pakistan closed NATO supply line in November to protest over the killing of its 24 soldiers in a U.S. airstrike on border posts.
The DCC meeting welcomed Clinton’s ‘sorry’ over the killing of Pakistani soldiers, the Minister said, adding that Pakistan’s decision will facilitate the transition process in Afghanistan.
Pakistan had been demanding U.S. apology for months but the U.S. had earlier refused to tender apology and American officials were saying that only regret was enough.
“We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military,” Hillary Clinton said in a statement posted on the website of the State Department.
Pakistan welcomed the U.S. apology and decided to reopen the supply line, which will ensure stability in Afghanistan, Kaira said.
He said the DCC decided that no lethal weapons will be allowed to be transported through Pakistan. He however said that equipment will only be allowed for the Afghan National Army.
Prime Minister in his opening remarks told the meeting that the continued closure of supply lines not only impinges on Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S., but also “on our relations with the 49 other member states of NATO/ISAF,” an official statement said.
“We are committed to working with the international community to counter the threat of terrorism, both at the regional and global levels as It has been our constant endeavour to safeguard Pakistan’s supreme national interests in a most effective and inclusive manner”.
Ashraf said Pakistan has been cooperating with the international community on the principles of mutual respect, trust and interest, as Pakistan is an active and responsible member of international community.
“We have paid a high price for this cooperation,” the Prime Minister said, adding that many of Pakistani valiant officers and soldiers of the armed forces and security personnel fell victim to terror and have sacrificed lives.
“Our civilian population has repeatedly been targeted by terrorist organizations,” the Prime Minister told the meeting.
Sources said that an American team, comprised NATO commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller; and Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas Nides, had held talks with Pakistani officials in Islamabad over the past few days.
The meeting was attended by deputy Prime Minister, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, Defence Minister, Naveed Qamar, Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Khalid Shameem Wynne, Army Chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Acting Chief of Navel Staff, Vice Admiral Tanveer Faiz, chief of main intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, Chief Lt. Gen. M. Zaheer-ul-Islam, Director General Intelligence Bureau Aftab Sultan and seniors officials.
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80213372