Cabinet to mull reopening NATO supplies

By AFP
Published: May 11, 2012

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is understood to have confirmed the date for Tuesday's meeting. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The cabinet will meet next week to discuss ending a nearly six-month blockade on NATO supplies into Afghanistan, officials said Friday.

Tuesday’s meeting will also debate how and whether to repair relations with the United States in time to attend a key NATO summit later this month.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is understood to have confirmed the date for the meeting of the defence committee of the cabinet from London, where he is on an official visit to Britain, the second-largest contributor to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Pakistan shut its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies after US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26, provoking a major crisis in Pakistani-US relations still reeling from the raid that killed Osama bin Laden the previous May.

US officials expressed regret, but stopped short of apologising for the deaths that an American and NATO investigation said stemmed from mistakes made on both sides.

“A meeting of the defence committee of the cabinet has been convened on May 15. It will be followed by cabinet meeting on May 16,” said one senior government official.

Diplomats have been keen to resolve the impasse between Islamabad and Washington before the NATO summit on Afghanistan in Chicago on May 21-22, to which Islamabad has been invited.

“The meetings will discuss whether Pakistan should reopen the NATO supply route or not, and if Islamabad should attend the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago,” another official told AFP.

“These are very critical issues, which need a serious discussion,” he added.

Gilani will chair the talks, to be attended by Pakistan’s service chiefs, including head of the army General Ashfaq Kayani and ISI intelligence head, Zaheer ul Islam, as well as Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the defence, interior and finance ministers.

“This is an important meeting and it will decide about the future of Pakistan-US relations,” the senior government official told AFP.

Officials declined to say publicly when the NATO supply route could reopen despite local press reports that Pakistan and the United States are on the verge of a breakthrough.

“We are discussing it on a technical level, it is under discussion but let me say again – no final decision has been taken yet,” foreign ministry spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan told AFP.

On Saturday, Pakistan hosts the highest-level talks with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan military for a year, a further sign that momentum is building towards easing the deadlock.

US General John Allen, the ISAF commander in Afghanistan and Afghan army chief, General Sher Muhammad Karimi, will attend the talks at army headquarters in Rawalpindi, the military said.

“Talks will focus on enhancing efficiency of border coordination measures along the Pak-Afghan border and to improve multilateral mechanisms at operational and tactical levels,” the military said.

Parliament last month approved new guidelines on relations with the United States, including a call for an end to drone strikes.

Analysts believe Islamabad has no choice but to reopen the border when US back-payments for fighting militants in the northwest, as part of the Coalition Support Fund, are needed to help boost state coffers ahead of the next budget.

Some officials are concerned by reported moves by a US House of Representatives panel to deny $800 million in aid to train and equip the Pakistani army in counter-insurgency.

“Pressure is coming, not only from Britain (given Gilani’s visit to London) but from other key international players in Afghanistan for reopening the route,” political analyst Hasan Askari said.

“I think the government should tell the US that we are conditionally reopening the route but that we will continue talking about other critical issues, such as drone strikes and readjustments (back payments) of the Coalition Support Fund,” Askari told AFP.

Reader Comments (41)

  • Salman Sheikh
    May 11, 2012 - 12:47PM

    Politician and Army are only interested in Dollars i think.. They didn’t have solutions for Pakistani People. As an very emotional attachment with our Pak Army I have some serious concerns about Army now.. The politicians are looting the country and they are doing nothing if i want to join hands for our problems I certainly choose to aside with People and against Army and Politicians. Certainly the tides are going against you..

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  • Salman Sheikh
    May 11, 2012 - 12:51PM

    Politician and Army are only interested in Dollars i think.. They didn’t have solutions for Pakistani People. As an very emotional attachment with our Pak Army I have some serious concerns about Army now.. The politicians are looting the country and they are doing nothing if i want to join hands for our problems I certainly choose to aside with People and against Army and Politicians. Certainly the tides are going against them.

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  • wisdom
    May 11, 2012 - 1:23PM

    It will be a tight slap to all those who fought for the closing.

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  • May 11, 2012 - 1:23PM

    Time for regime change.

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  • May 11, 2012 - 1:43PM

    stop them before its too late

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  • Nadeem
    May 11, 2012 - 1:55PM

    Pakistan’s economy is in dire situation and USA will take advantage of this to re-open the supply routes. Pakistan could have a courageous stand having the stable economy. Now Pakistan will succumb to re-opening the supplies today or tomorrow.

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  • Revolutionary
    May 11, 2012 - 3:03PM

    Its time to remove Traitor Politicians and Generals who are there only to protect “American Interest”

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  • sadu mamma
    May 11, 2012 - 3:24PM

    why is zardari and gillani and his team so desperate to go on another foreign trip for the nato summit?

    They should not dare reopening the Nato supplies unless we (and not their bank accounts) get something substantial in return.

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  • May 11, 2012 - 3:39PM

    @Moise:
    Extension working, how people expect that kayani will side with nation

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  • wow
    May 11, 2012 - 3:41PM

    hahahahaha

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  • naazneen khan
    May 11, 2012 - 3:41PM

    We must take in to consideration all the aspects before we jump to the conclusion visit this web site and know what is really going on.
    http://www.mullahmilitarymilitantsandjudiciary.blogspot.com/

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  • sohail hussain
    May 11, 2012 - 3:50PM

    IK and PTI are not giving any statement as they dont want to lose US Aid too if they come to power.

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  • M.S
    May 11, 2012 - 3:52PM

    Pakistan not invited to the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago! Get the USA to clarify on this at least if not anything else.

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  • Rizwan
    May 11, 2012 - 3:52PM

    US and Nato is over stretched and exhausted they is nothing much they can do except giving warnings .US has always been this way .We stand behind Pakistan

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  • feroze
    May 11, 2012 - 4:01PM

    People in glass houses shouldnt be throwing stones…..do we really want to take on the entire western world….dont forget its not just the US thats NATO, its also most of europe. Lets not get more loyal then the king or for that matter lets not cut our own nose to spite our own face!!!!

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  • Hedgefunder
    May 11, 2012 - 4:35PM

    @Revolutionary:
    “Its time to remove Traitor Politicians and Generals who are there only to protect “American Interest”

    Brave words ! But sadly People of Pakistan lack the will to act, as they repeatedly elect same Politicians, who have never delivered when in Office !
    The very reason where Pakistan is at present !

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  • Mo!
    May 11, 2012 - 4:40PM

    This piece of writing mentions that Islamabad has been invited to the NATO summit in Chicago. However, another news article on ET mentions that Pakistan is one of the countries that were not invited to summit and the secretary general of NATO is quoted as saying this. Please make the correction.

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  • May 11, 2012 - 4:42PM

    We can not afford the stunts any more..those routes have to open now or than coz its not only the U.S involved there…Our Economy is at its worse…so instead of just passing passionate comments become realistic and see what is going around !!

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  • Vikas
    May 11, 2012 - 8:29PM

    Ha ha ha….If you guys had to open without getting anything for it then why did you close it on the first instance. Recommend

  • bharat
    May 11, 2012 - 8:37PM

    @Salman Sheikh:

    Very true Salman, you need to get Imran in power

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  • anwar
    May 11, 2012 - 8:41PM

    Yes we should also compensate them for loss they suffered over the months with interest.

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  • May 11, 2012 - 10:40PM

    We will oppose it on every platform!!!! Only politicians need dollars & they want to reopen the supply

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  • Hedgefunder
    May 11, 2012 - 11:39PM

    To all Ghairatmands , the decision has been made by your esteemed Leaders to consider the matter, and have reached the conclusion that its only When and not IF the Supply route will be open for Money urgently required by the Govt, as none of pay your TAXES !!!!

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  • May 12, 2012 - 12:04AM

    @Hedgefunder

    We pay our taxes!!! Only those who are willing to open the supply line have the power to cheat on the nation by not paying taxes. Don’t you remember same politicians were against Pakistan nuclear tests, they used to say “WE WILL STARVE TO DEATH” and you saw what happened!!! Nothing will happen. If the taxes are used in a right way, nothing will happen.

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    May 12, 2012 - 1:24AM

    Ultimately we have to do something according to an old saying ‘ Saanp bhe mur jae or lathi bhe bch jae’. We are not in a position to stand in the way of NATO. It is not only USA but more than 35 plus countries who will then try to bring us on our knees. We have been using wrong cards at the right time and right cards at the wrong time. We must try to understand what is affordable and what is not affordable. This is not time to do or die. Look for something in-between..

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  • dv sikka
    May 12, 2012 - 1:39AM

    Zardari government to walk a tight rope. A bitter choice between US Dollars and the wrath of muslim hardliners. Do they have the guts and resources to allow safe passage of NATO supplies.

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  • Imran
    May 12, 2012 - 3:49AM

    @Saim Baig:
    Punjab runs on the taxes collected from Sindh, which generates 70% of the tax revenue. Why doesn’t the 60% population (industrial tycoons, traders, property dealers) start contributing at least something. Last time when the government tried, PML-N’s appeasement to the traders and its conflict of interest were the main obstacle towards the documentation of sources of income.

    Beggars can’t be choosers.

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  • Ah
    May 12, 2012 - 5:07AM

    Close the air space

    The nation rejects supply routes

    Only traitors think of reppening it

    Time is now to pull out of the war

    Now now now!!

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  • Ilyad
    May 12, 2012 - 8:07AM

    As if this wasn’t expected. It is only 24 hours from the establishment of conditions to both economic and defence aid from the US legislators, and cold shoulder at NATO conference in Chicago, and the sand shifts from under the feet of our very baa-ghairat politicians who use words like sovereignty, self respect and ‘aid-dollars’ in the same sentence. Imagine the impact of international sanctions next.

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  • Salman Sheikh
    May 12, 2012 - 10:16AM

    @feroze:
    Make a stand for it it doesn’t mean to fight.. Certainly Europe in not going to get in another US war.

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  • Salman Sheikh
    May 12, 2012 - 10:18AM

    @bharat:
    We know what we want

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  • Salman Sheikh
    May 12, 2012 - 10:25AM

    @Imran:
    This is just a hate comment think before speaking up. Its about Pakistan not provinces.. and Subject is totally differ from your assessment.

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  • Salman Sheikh
    May 12, 2012 - 10:27AM

    @wisdom:
    May be you also got some commission in supplies… hahaha

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  • Salman Sheikh
    May 12, 2012 - 10:28AM

    @Nadeem:
    US says before that supply route is not that important.. so why they want to reopen it now.??

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  • observer
    May 12, 2012 - 11:06AM

    This is not an emotional question we need to answer. we, the whole nation, need to do a little soul searching and find an answer to one question, was our policies towards Afghanistan, then and now, in the interest of pakistan? was it in the interest of pakistan to fight a proxy war in afghanistan against then USSR by supporting different factions of militants? was it wise to create TALIBANS and allow them and support them to operate in afghanistan from pakistan to topple DR Najeeb,s govt? Even today are,nt various militant groups present on our soil and playing havoc on both sides of the border? can pakistan, a cash and resource strapped country afford to mimic the super and regional powers to play games on global canvas?
    The judgment is yours and then ask your leaders to mend their ways. Emotions and false pride has brought us to this day.

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  • sunder khan
    May 12, 2012 - 11:14PM

    @Salman Sheikh:
    let the Chief Justice call the Army for the implementation of Supreme Court verdicts. This could be the constitutional way of sorting out the corrupt politicians.

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  • Hedgefunder
    May 13, 2012 - 3:02PM

    @observer:
    It will be these false Ghairat, that will bring further demise of Pakistan !
    They really have neither learned, nor grown up in past 50 years !

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  • Salman Sheikh
    May 13, 2012 - 3:49PM

    @Hedgefunder:
    Certainly US learned from Vietnam..

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  • May 13, 2012 - 3:55PM

    @Pakistan politics:
    Don’t expect the dollar loving pro-US generals to change. It will be better the change comes from people and supported by pro-Pakistan colonels.

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  • Hedgefunder
    May 13, 2012 - 5:30PM

    @Salman Sheikh:
    I don’t endorse,nor approve US, but they can affford this mess and survive, economically ! Can Pakistan survive the chaos and aftermath of their adventurism ???

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  • sunder khan
    May 13, 2012 - 6:13PM

    @Salman Sheikh:
    US had not learnt any lesson from their failure in Vietnam and they had also not learnt any lesson from the British and USSR’s failure in Afghanistan. Actually the Americans have no interest in reading history. Hence the question of learning lesson does not arise.

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