The resumption of Nato supply routes seems to be an issue too hot for anyone to handle at the moment.
Asserting that the decision to resume Nato supply routes will be taken by parliament alone, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has hinted at improved coordination with the United States to conduct operations at the Afghan border.
Kayani, who was accompanying Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman and a group of media personnel at the Jacobabad Airbase (Shahbaz Airbase) on Monday, stated: “Parliament reserves the right to decide the resumption of Nato supplies.”
Relations with the US
At the occasion, the air chief firmly declared, “Jacobabad Airbase is now under the control of the PAF.”
Replying to a query related to the US – who was told to vacate the base by Pakistan in the aftermath of the November 26 Salala checkpoint attack – the army chief said Islamabad and Washington are cooperating on defence operations.
“Pakistani officials are taken into confidence whenever Afghan bordering areas are to be attacked,” Kayani reiterated while briefing journalists who were invited to attend the F-16 Block-52 ceremony.
Despite strained relations between the two allies, Gen Kayani said, “US always takes Pakistan into confidence when it comes to conducting operations against militants on bordering areas of Afghanistan.”
Talking about the Coalition Support Fund, which was set up by the US Congress after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan to reimburse allies for costs in supporting the US-led war on militancy, Gen Kayani said: “Pakistan is yet to receive $1.5 billion from the US.”
And Air chief Suleman revealed: “Pakistan is manufacturing its own unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra and we will soon be able to prepare UAVs equipped with missile technology.”
Pakistan has the capability to bring down drones being operated by the US in the tribal areas, but the policy and decision rests with Parliament, he stated.
Of tenures, Balochistan and India
Meanwhile, answering a question regarding an extension in his term, the air chief said that this question should be asked from the government not him. When asked whether Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha will be granted another extension, he quipped: “I will answer this question after two months.”
However, regarding the Balochistan issue, Gen Kayani appeared to be tight-lipped. He simply stressed on more jobs for Baloch youth in the armed forces.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2012.