‘Tough conditions’: NATO routes set to reopen

Published: March 15, 2012

President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani attend a meeting of coalition partners at Aiwan-e-Sadr on March 14 2012 with COAS Ashfaque Pervez Kayani, Air Marshall Rao Qamar Suleman and DG ISI Lt Gen Shuja Pasaha. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan appears to have given in to mounting Western pressure – finally.

Islamabad is inching closer to unplugging the Nato supply routes that it had blocked in protest at the November 26, 2011 deadly Nato air raid on Pakistani border posts in Mohmand Agency.

On Wednesday, the country’s top civil and military leadership evolved a consensus on lifting the almost four-month-long blockade – but under ‘tough conditions’.

The supply routes for US-led foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan are expected to reopen later this month after Parliament approves new terms of engagements with the United States.

However, it is unclear what ‘tough conditions’ Pakistan is considering for unblocking the Nato supply routes.

A high-powered huddle at the Presidency decided to convene a much-awaited joint session of Parliament on March 17 to debate and approve new rules of engagements with the US.

The meeting was chaired by President Asif Zardari and attended by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the air force chief, the foreign secretary and leaders of the coalition partners.

An official told The Express Tribune that the meeting reviewed the recommendations finalised by an all-party, bicameral parliamentary panel.

It was the first time the country’s top civil and military leadership discussed the draft proposals, in a move that indicates that the government now wants to complete the parliamentary review at the earliest.

The US has privately expressed its ‘frustration’ over the delay in the process, as alternative routes for Nato supplies are much costlier than the land routes of Pakistan.

“There was a general consensus among the participants that we now have to reopen the Nato supply routes,” the official said, while requesting anonymity. “For once, we have conveyed our principled position to the US regarding our red lines and we believe that it is very well received in Washington,” the official added.

A statement issued from the Presidency, however, did not specifically mention whether the meeting discussed Pakistan-US ties. “The meeting was briefed about security and foreign policy-related issues,” it added.

Presidential spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar told The Express Tribune that the meeting was convened to brief the coalition parties on issues of national security and foreign policy.

He attempted to play down the hype on whether the high-level gathering had taken any decision on reopening the Nato routes. “It was a routine briefing arranged at the request of the coalition partners,” said Babar.

He maintained that the decision to reopen the supply routes would be taken by Parliament.

Another official said that the briefing was a part of government’s preparations to summon a joint session of Parliament.

Ahead of the session, the government would also take into confidence the opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, about its likely decision to reopen the Nato supply routes.  “We have taken the coalition partners into confidence, and in the next phase we will brief the opposition parties,” the official disclosed.

The consultations are aimed at ensuring a smooth passage of the new terms of engagements with the US.

Meanwhile, key US officials are expected to travel to Pakistan as soon as Parliament completes the review this month.

Head of US military’s Central Command (Centcom) General James N Mattis and Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman will visit Islamabad to revive cooperation under the new terms of engagements.

In Washington, a defence department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that they have seen media reports about the reopening of Nato supply routes. “As far as we know no final decision has been made. Such a decision awaits a parliamentary review which so far has not happened.”

(Read: Reopening Nato supply routes)

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

Reader Comments (30)

  • Roflcopter
    Mar 15, 2012 - 4:53AM

    Pakistan appears to have given in to US begging.

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  • Anjaan
    Mar 15, 2012 - 5:09AM

    The well rehearsed drama between the Americans and the Pakistanis for the consumption of domestic as well as external audience has finally come to an end. It was a foregone conclusion that even a school going kid could see coming …….. !

    Pakistan now needs the money and the spare parts for its F-16s, hence the decision to end the blockade ….. all the rest, like the talk of tough conditions etc. are just a load of crap … !

    The new rules of engagement will probably take a few more years to be drafted, as in a real world the dollars do the talking.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 15, 2012 - 5:56AM

    there kids and families have to get westren visas too afterall and finnaly citizenships.

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  • Mar 15, 2012 - 6:04AM

    President Zardari and Prime minister Gilani for the sake of your citizens do not go down this path. The assassination drone attacks continue your brothers and sisters in Afghanistan are massacred on a daily basis forty such genocidal night raids as we recently witnessed take place every single day! Sir please authorize your military by standing order to engage and shoot down these drones. Disengage from the Nazi’s in control of the US!
    I would prefer you to send an ultimatum to the White house along the following Lines ” one more death by your drones will result in the Nuclear annihilation of all your south east Asia Bases including Diego Garcia, Bagram, Bahrain, the ball is in your court Mr president Obama”

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  • KM
    Mar 15, 2012 - 6:39AM

    Simply … Shame less peopleRecommend

  • Mar 15, 2012 - 7:34AM

    This demure ‘yes’ was long overdue. What a country? Salams

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 15, 2012 - 7:56AM

    The corrupt always fall into line. They don’t have the character to face losses of their personal assets and fortune stored in western banks and countries.

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  • Senman
    Mar 15, 2012 - 7:57AM

    I think Pakistan realizes its game-over as Russia is willing to open its gates for NATO goods.

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  • usman
    Mar 15, 2012 - 8:19AM

    As if it is the first time we have to grovel.

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  • SAA
    Mar 15, 2012 - 8:48AM

    So it takes us 4 months to forget about all the innocent lives lost in the salala incident. I wonder if Maj Mujahid and Capt Usman’s families have been told that.

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  • syed baqar ahsan
    Mar 15, 2012 - 9:06AM

    I thing route opening will be short live because Americans are still blackmailing ,showing arrogance,drone attacks not, respecting geo-political importance of Pakistan and double gaming alongwith India in Balochistan also creating heralds in relation with Iran and China.

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  • Mar 15, 2012 - 9:13AM

    A drone a day keeps the doctor away.

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  • Yaida
    Mar 15, 2012 - 9:37AM

    Let us now see what the talking heads at Difa-e-Pakistan will do now – or for that matter, the Kaptaan too. They have vowed to never allow NATO routes to open in Pakistan.

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  • Yaida
    Mar 15, 2012 - 9:40AM

    @John Marsh: If you look closely at the photos, the “Jernails” are there in full force too. Will you just want to hold the politicians accountable and NOT the Jernails ?

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  • Singh
    Mar 15, 2012 - 9:41AM

    John Marsh,
    Nice dream, but think about consequence of this threat.

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  • Saad Ullah
    Mar 15, 2012 - 9:46AM

    And as always….. Money Wins!!!

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  • anwar
    Mar 15, 2012 - 9:49AM

    As long as they pay cash not “credits” not “promises ” its ok!. Downstream side: more accountability of cash received else every govt will bend over backwards to sell themselves. (not to mention that there will be no peace in Afghanistan)

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  • MarkH
    Mar 15, 2012 - 9:49AM

    @Roflcopter:
    If calling it begging helps you salvage some pride, sure.

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  • vasan
    Mar 15, 2012 - 10:04AM

    What is the ghairat brigade doing now ?
    John Marsh : I like your satire.

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  • Raj - USA
    Mar 15, 2012 - 10:45AM

    The real question is: Who is going to set the tough conditions ? US or Pakistan ?

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  • Mumbai Dude
    Mar 15, 2012 - 10:57AM

    Pakistan has really no choice.

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  • John B
    Mar 15, 2012 - 11:08AM

    On Nov I said it : in spring the NATO supply route will reopen. So here it is. All parties should know by now that there is no connection between supply route and drones.

    PAK is a partner in this war, and she cannot switch policy as she pleases. By the way, US still wants answers on Abbottabad.

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  • Mar 15, 2012 - 11:50AM

    New terms and conditions must be debated publicly for nation,s approval. Any how we must come to the terms for finishing the conflict in Afghanistan.

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  • Tony C.
    Mar 15, 2012 - 12:32PM

    @John B:
    You appear to have lost sight of the fact that the U.S./Israel/NATO combo are in a foreign country, and should pay heed to what the locals are saying. One can imagine what the U.S. would say if a foreign power started dropping bombs inside America. Just look at what has happened since 9/11. There are vulgar words to describe how they felt but let us suffice to say they have murdered in excess of 1,500,000 people, many of them in Pakistan. It would appear that the Americans are now doing what they do best. They are bullying Pakistan into allowing their dreadful weapons of war to progress through to Afghanistan at low cost. That way they can continue to kill innocent men, women and children economically at lowest cost to the American tax payer.

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  • Shyam
    Mar 15, 2012 - 3:29PM

    @Tony C
    Pakistan has rented out its army and country to the US. How else do you explain the war on terror. The taliban were created by Pakistan and were Pakistan’s allies. So the entire war on terror by Pakistan is due to

    a)Fear of being bombed to stone age OR
    b)Greed for US dollars.

    When your army has sold itself out to the US how can you complain about the casualties?

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  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Mar 15, 2012 - 4:33PM

    It’s a right decision which proves that Pakistan is ready to play its role in war against terrorism at any cost . Now most of the terrorist group will surface to oppose this crucial decision in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan and they will be easily identified and targetted by Drones and Pak army in years to come .Thus the total elimination of such elements from the region can be realized before 2014 .

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  • Tony C.
    Mar 15, 2012 - 8:43PM

    @Dr.A.K.Tewari:
    Dear Dr. Tewari,
    I will not argue with your supposition of who are the terrorists one way or the other, and how they can be easily identified, but the U.S./NATO combo, with all its modern weaponry have been attempting, as part of their so called noble Afghan mission, to bring a few incalcitrants to heel for ten years now, and have achieved very little success so far, have severely damaged the infrastructure of two countries and at the same time caused the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children. With this distressing lack of success in solving a self made U.S. problem I wonder what sort of improvement could possibly occur in the next two years, and how many more innocents will have to perish before they do everybody a favour and go home?

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  • hadi
    Mar 15, 2012 - 11:57PM

    pakistan army has already signed deals with railways. it will pay for the repair of some locomotives and will get ownership of half the number. it plans to use them for transporting nato supplies so as to generate revenue. it has been in the pipeline for 3 months. they had cut off the route with the intent of reopening the route after some months.

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  • well-wisher
    Mar 16, 2012 - 10:17AM

    @John Marsh:
    I dont know whether you are an American or not but you do appear to be a Westerner. I want to ask you one simple question that can Pakistan dream to issue such an ultimatum or carry out a nuclear attack with an inevitable risk of being wiped out from the world map ?? Mr Marsh, your mind appears to be working overtime but remember that these drones have eliminated many terrorists including commanders who have been killing innocent civilians.

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  • Tony C.
    Mar 17, 2012 - 1:35AM

    @well-wisher:
    Dear well-wisher,
    The only statistic I am really aware of is that the drones have killed many innocent people. I know the Americans like to let us know about their dubious success rate, but they really do fudge or skew statistics to make them look better than they really are. These fudged statistics are used to keep their own troop losses low, do not mention walking wounded even though they may be damaged forever, exaggerate enemy losses, and rarely mention civilian casualties unless it becomes impossible to hide them due to public protests. In other circles people doing similar things are usually accused of telling lies. I admit that instigating a nuclear attack could be dangerous, but I think Pakistan would be well within its rights to shoot down drone aircraft, but does not do so. We know that American type warfare is not that efficient, because they have been in Afghanistan for ten plus years with very little to show for it, and with this in mind how do we know of what importance your so called terrorists are, if in fact the U.S. is hitting the enemy and not just killing innocent people. You carelessly use the word terrorists, but in many cases my understanding is that they are Muslims fighting back against foreign invaders. They did not ask for this fight. The U.S. brought it to them. You seem to be concerned about terrorists killing innocent civilians. It is my understanding that the Americans have now killed more innocent civilians in Pakistan than occurred at 9/11, the seriously wounded list is very high and hospital facilities are inadequate. The bottom line in all this is that Pakistan should be standing up to the Americans much more robustly. As an aside it is interesting to note that U.S. Intelligence appears to know when they have bagged a terrorist, but fails to note when they have killed a child, which happens often.

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