Responding to overtures: Nato allowed airspace use, says minister

Published: February 15, 2012

Defence ministry official quoted Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar as saying that permission has been given for food items. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Islamabad is making no secret of its responsiveness to Washington’s overtures.

Days after the interior minister attempted to avoid the question, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar told journalists that the country has allowed Nato to use its airspace for ferrying supplies to troops stationed in Afghanistan.

“We have allowed them to transport food items by air to Afghanistan, since they were perishable,” the minister said. “However, we have also told them not to bring more food supplies,” Mukhtar added.

Last week, US Ambassador Cameron Munter revealed that Western forces stationed in Afghanistan were using Pakistan’s airspace for crucial supplies.

The US, meanwhile, wants Pakistan to lift the Nato supply route embargo since the financial cost of supplies through alternative means is much higher.

While they did not say much on record, sources say Russia and China endorsed Pakistan’s decision to shut down Nato supply routes behind closed doors.

The issue of resumption of Nato supplies was one of the key topics that came under discussion during Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s recent visit to Moscow, say diplomatic sources.

The Russian government not only endorsed Pakistan’s decision to shut down Nato supplies, it also encouraged Islamabad to maintain the ban, sources added.

The supply lines have been suspended since November 26 last year when Nato air strikes at a Pakistani border posts killed 24 soldiers.

Beijing, meanwhile, also asked Islamabad to not bow to US pressure and reopen Nato supply routes keeping in mind its national interest.

“China has extended full support to us … they want us not to be scared of consequences or any threats from the US,” said a government official familiar with the development.

Beijing had assured Islamabad it would provide assistance to help offset the negative fallout of keeping the Nato supply routes blocked, the official, who requested anonymity, added. The Foreign Office spokesperson wasn’t available for comment.

(Read: Reopening Nato supply routes)

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Feb 15, 2012 - 5:51AM

    Shameful. Guess who has blood of Afghanis on their hand beside human right champion.

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  • O B Server
    Feb 15, 2012 - 6:16AM

    How do you ensure that only food items are being ferried across Pakistan airspace?
    No genuine apology, no favours!

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  • Californian
    Feb 15, 2012 - 7:30AM

    What do you call a dog that bites its master?

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  • Feb 15, 2012 - 7:55AM

    The Defence Minister is lying. Musharraf allowed unhindered use of air space over Pakistan and that has continued ever since.

    To say that only food supplies are allowed through air corridor is sheer nonsense. There is absolutely no restrictions on NATO/US for what they can carry through the air corridor.

    The US Ambassador was absolutely right when he said that air corridor has been in use throughout. It is time, the Interior and Defence Ministers stop trying to fool the public and start telling the truth.

    Recommend

  • Devils advice
    Feb 15, 2012 - 8:43AM

    Wow it seems like pakistan is now SOCCER BALL for china and russia.
    Jinnah is twisting and turning in his grave
    Very much a laughing stocks in world of foreign policy.

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Feb 15, 2012 - 8:57AM

    No person of any authority in GOP would or could reveal private conversations between Pakistan and nations that would embarrass Russia and China. This article is a figment of ET’s imagination. ET should know what setbacks such articles could have on Pakistan and as such should be avoided. Recommend

  • Kazmis
    Feb 15, 2012 - 9:05AM

    Do not forget that it was Mr. Ambassador of US who disclosed that supplies are open through Air, because other routes are quite expensive, and then Pakistan Defense minister had to admit it. Pakistan authorities are now in embarrassing position and even Pakistani people. It is a game of De-moralizing the whole nation again and again.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Feb 15, 2012 - 9:08AM

    Shame on you Defence Minister.

    People like you are the ones who may sell the entire Pakistan to US for the sake of your personal interest.

    You have sold the sentiments of the entire nation.

    It is not only the food which is going on through air route, the military equipment are also been transported to NATO in the same aircraft’s.

    You must resign at once as the nation has lost confidence on you.

    Recommend

  • Thoughtful
    Feb 15, 2012 - 9:28AM

    Was airspace use ever stopped? Can supplies to occupying militaries ever be deemed humanitarian? This issue is getting more and more opaque and devoid of clear governing principles.

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  • Noor
    Feb 15, 2012 - 9:57AM

    Are you insisting to be party to the aggressor who’s
    1. trying to implement their own lifestyle across board, and
    2. denying all types of (even) harmless independence of living by other communities.

    Recommend

  • HSK
    Feb 15, 2012 - 11:16AM

    “We have allowed them to transport food items by air to Afghanistan, since they were perishable,” …. What goes of you? Mr. Minister? if the food expires? your over dozes made you forget they just murdered 24 soldiers?

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  • Californian
    Feb 15, 2012 - 11:16AM

    @Californian: why, the answer is simple. Only one country qualifies for this definition and they know it. Who runs with tail wagging, to different countries to get a pat on the head?

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  • Feb 15, 2012 - 1:06PM

    International laws bound us to allow NATO supplys through air, we cant block it

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  • Cautious
    Feb 15, 2012 - 6:19PM

    After OBL was found in Abbottabad your lucky you still have electricity so you can complain about the American’s on the internet.

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  • Feb 15, 2012 - 7:30PM

    no need to worry

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