Pentagon hopeful of deal over Nato routes
WASHINGTON, June 27: Activities to mend rapidly deteriorating relations between the United States and Pakistan picked up on Wednesday as the Pentagon spoke of ‘reasons’ for believing that the dispute over the Nato supply routes might soon be resolved.
“I think the basis for some kind of agreement (on the Nato supply routes) is there and is real and we hope that we reach a resolution,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters here.
As part of Islamabad’s efforts to rebuild the key relationship, Ambassador Sherry Rehman spent the last two weeks shuttling
between Capitol Hill and the offices of the US administration, the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon included.
The ambassador’s activities assumed an added significance on Wednesday afternoon when Pentagon’s George Little said he had reasons to believe that ties with Pakistan may soon be normalised.
“I think there is reason for optimism. I think we’re reaching a point in our relationship with Pakistan that suggests that things are settling down a bit,” he said.
And Director of the US Defence Logistics Agency Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek told another Pentagon briefing: “On the ground, it’s almost three times more expensive to come from the north as it does from Pakistan. More expensive and slower.”
He was referring to the Northern Supply Route that the Nato now uses instead of the more convenient Pakistan route.
Ambassador Rehman had a separate meeting with Senators Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul who have pledged to seek a direct vote to stop US aid to Pakistan if Islamabad does not release Dr Shakil Afridi by July 20.
The two senators also urged Pakistan to reopen Nato supply routes and to take action against the Haqqani network involved in attacking US and Isaf forces.