ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has not imposed any ban on the supply of goods to Nato forces but merely shut it down temporarily due to security reasons, Foreign Office Spokesperson Abdul Basit said on Sunday.
“We did not ban Nato supplies. The temporary suspension comes in the wake of public reaction after the attacks. It will be restored when things get settled,” Basit told a British television channel. However, he refused to say when Islamabad will allow trucks to drive into Afghanistan. “It depends on how soon the security situation improves and public anger eases,” he told the channel. But an official at the foreign ministry said it might not take more than a couple of days to resume supplies through Torkham, one of the two routes which Nato trucks use to cross into Afghanistan from Pakistan.
The official, who requested anonymity, said Pakistani military officials and their counterparts from Nato were engaged in ‘negotiations’ or ‘joint investigation’ in Afghanistan and had almost settled ‘many of conflicting issues’. “The trucks will be rolling ahead as soon as they come back,” the official spoke of the outcome of what was being described a joint investigation by military officials from both sides.
The comments from the officials in Islamabad came on the heels of a similar statement by Pakistani ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani in an interview to CNN. The envoy told CNN’s “State of the Union” programme on Sunday that the transit way is likely to reopen within days. “I think the supply line will be open relatively quickly,” he said. Pakistan halted Nato convoys on Thursday after officials blamed a cross-border Nato helicopter attack for the deaths of three soldiers.
But Haqqani told CNN that he expected that the road would reopen in “less than a week.” “It’s not a blockade. It’s just a temporary suspension of the convoys moving through,” Haqqani said. “I do not expect this blockade to continue for too long.” The ambassador said that General David Petraeus, the US commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, was looking into the matter. “I spoke to General Petraeus last night. He called me from Kabul,” Haqqani said.
“He assured me he will resolve the issue over the Nato tanker supply line. He understands Pakistan has not stopped it as a political retaliation but only to make convoys more secure,” he said. Haqqani added that the recent imbroglio likely will create no permanent damage to future US-Pakistan cooperation. “Pakistan is an American ally. America depends on Pakistan,” he said.
“We can and do not do everything the Americans think we should do because sometimes we don’t have the capacity, sometimes we don’t have the means,” he said. Nevertheless, Haqqani continued, “We work those things out and that is exactly what we are doing right now. Minus all of the political noise, the fact remains that we are working together.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is scheduled to meet with Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday. Qureshi will visit the transatlantic alliance’s headquarters in Brussels on the sidelines of a two-day Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). A Nato statement said on Sunday that the duo will not hold a press briefing after the talks.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2010.
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