Decision all but taken to reopen Nato routes
ISLAMABAD, June 28: Recent reports from various quarters clearly indicate that Pakistan will soon reopen the blocked supply routes for Nato forces in Afghanistan.
While Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, said in Washington on Wednesday that an apology for Salala attack would help end the deadlock on supply lines, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbass Jilani told reporters here on Thursday that the two sides had covered considerable ground that could lead to resolving the issue.
According to a press release issued by the Pakistan Embassy in the US after the ambassador’s meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul: “Both sides agreed on the importance of overcoming the current stalemate in the bilateral relationship urgently and to work for a robust and even-keeled relationship based on mutual respect.”
And Secretary Jilani told reporters at the Parliament House in Islamabad that both countries were moving in right direction,” adding that reopening the supply route would benefit the country.
In response to a question, the foreign secretary said: “We have presented the Americans certain conditions, including an apology over the Salala attack, before allowing Nato to use our routes and there is considerable development on this front.
“One should understand that timely withdrawal of Nato forces from the region and a stable Afghanistan are good for Pakistan.”
He said Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf would soon visit Afghanistan to give much-needed impetus to the process.
On and off the record meetings between military commanders of the two sides have also played a role in resolving the issue of supply lines which were closed down in November last year after the Salala attack in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed.
“I can only say very soon,” said a Foreign Office source when asked when the government intended to give a green signal to Nato supply contractors to go ahead with their operations.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a briefing for heads of diplomatic missions. According to an official press release, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reiterated that Pakistan would continue to pursue its key foreign policy goals on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual respect and benefit, non-interference and peaceful settlement of all issues. She also
spoke about the smooth transition to a new elected prime minister and the government’s abiding commitment to strengthening democracy.
She was accompanied by Law Minister Farooq Naek and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Amad Ahmed Khan.
Addressing the diplomats, the law minister reiterated the government’s commitment to an independent judicial system and respect for rule of law.
The briefing was meant to dispel a perception that the government was going for a head-on collision with the judiciary, said an
official. The law minister assured foreign diplomats that the government had no such intention and it fully respected the judiciary.
PM BRIEFED: Foreign Minister Khar and Secretary Jilani also gave a detailed briefing to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
According to a handout, the prime minister underscored the importance of projecting a soft image of Pakistan through public diplomacy by encouraging people-to-people contact, cultural exchange programmes and promotion of business and trade world over.
He stressed the need for interacting with the third generation of Pakistani expatriates, especially those in Europe and the US, and said their attachment with Pakistan would be a great asset for the country.
The prime minister urged the Foreign Office to focus on African countries as well because there existed immense potential of cooperation and many emerging powers were turning their attention to those states.