Political uncertainty over the fate of the civilian government could possibly delay the reopening of vital land routes for the US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan for a period much longer than previously expected, an official said on Tuesday.
The supply lines were shut down in November last year following a Nato cross border raid on Pakistani check posts near the Afghanistan border, an incident which resulted in the death of 24 soldiers.
In recent months, the two sides had come close to striking a deal on several occasions but certain developments put the final agreement on hold.
Now officials from both sides assess the seven-month-old ban on Nato supplies is unlikely to be lifted any time soon. One senior American official disclosed that the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party government might not take a decision at all. “Given the political uncertainty and prospects of early elections, they (PPP government) think it is too risky to take such a decision,” said the official, who requested anonymity. “It may take several months,” he added.
The government’s reluctance is attributed to rapidly changing developments on the political scene in the wake of disqualification of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani from holding office. “It seems the government wants to delay its decision till some clarity is achieved on the political front,” said the official.
Given the possibility of early polls some PPP members are suggesting that the decision to reopen supply lines should be left to the next political dispensation.
A PPP member dismissed this impression, saying that the government wanted to move beyond the Salala incident but the security establishment was not ready to compromise on certain key issues. The US had shown its willingness to offer an apology. However, the military is adamant that the Obama administration should also take the sole responsibility for the November 26 incident, he pointed out.
When approached, foreign ministry spokesperson Moazam Ali Khan said both sides were working to arrive at a ‘mutually acceptable solution’ to the issue. However, he would not give any time frame for when that agreement might occur.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2012.
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