Pakistan Defers NATO Supply Decision - 05-15-2012, 08:26 PM
Pakistan Defers NATO Supply Decision
By TOM WRIGHT
Pakistan's civilian and military leaders concluded a late-night meeting Tuesday without giving a clear indication on whether they would allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to resume supplying allied troops in Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.
Pakistan closed the routes to protest the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a NATO airstrike in November. The U.S., in return, has held up over a $1 billion in military aid to Pakistan.
The U.S.'s top generals in recent weeks have made a push for Pakistan to reopen the routes, which are crucial for supplying troops in Afghanistan.
On Monday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar indicated the supply routes could soon reopen but gave no time frame.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani chaired a meeting late Tuesday attended by Pakistani ministers and army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
The meeting was expected to make a decision on the matter. But a statement put out after its conclusion appeared to suggest authorities have yet to reach a consensus on how to proceed.
Pakistan May Reopen NATO Routes
Pakistani public opinion remains deeply anti-American. The continuation of U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani territory and the failure of Washington to apologize for the Pakistani soldiers' deaths has added to this sentiment, complicating the government's efforts to soften its stance on the NATO routes.
The statement said Pakistan should negotiate with NATO to allow only "nonlethal" supplies like fuel and provisions—not weapons—to transit through Pakistan. It didn't mention when supplies might resume.
Other developments, though, seemed to suggest a reopening was imminent.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen phoned President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday to invite Pakistan to attend a NATO meeting in Chicago next week that will discuss Afghanistan.
Some analysts in Pakistan said they believed NATO would only have extended the offer if they expected Pakistan to lift its suspension.
The statement said the Pakistani civilian and military leaders Tuesday "fully endorsed" Mr. Zardari's attendance at the NATO meeting.
Despite the deteriorating relationship in recent months, both sides appear keen to improve ties.
Washington needs Pakistan to put pressure on Taliban militants that use Pakistani territory to launch attacks on allied troops in Afghanistan. Islamabad doesn't want to find itself politically isolated as allied nations prepare for a wind down of international operations in Afghanistan in 2014.
Write to Tom Wright at email@example.com
05-15-2012, 08:30 PM
It looks as if the pressure from the religious political parties and opposition parties is working.
"JUI-F chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman had warned to 'physically' block if the government decided to reopen the Nato supplies."Nato supply route should not be re-opened unless the US gives an assurance to respect Pakistan sovereignty and integrity," Haji Ghulam Ali came up with some flexible reaction.
He, however, said that the nation would not allow reopening of Nato supply route."
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