ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to close the logistics supply line to NATO/ISAF forces stationed in Afghanistan with immediate effect, and to ask United States to vacate Shamsi air base within 15 days following the early morning raid by NATO forces on a Pakistani border checkpost on Saturday.
The decision was taken in an emergency meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. The meeting was attended by Federal Ministers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Services Chiefs including General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
The meeting, which took decisions in light of the Parliament resolution of May 14, 2011 (after the US raid on Abbottabad) decided that land supply route of NATO/ISAF supplies through Pakistan will be suspended, while US forces stationed at Shamsi air base in Balochistan will be asked to leave. The meeting further resolved that that the Pakistani people and the armed forces would safeguard the Pakistan’s sovereignty at all costs.
The Prime Minister will take the Parliament into confidence on the whole range of measures regarding matters relating to Pakistan’s future cooperation with US/NATO/ISAF, in the near future.
The DCC strongly condemned the attack by NATO/ISAF aircrafts on Pakistani border posts in the Mohmand Agency which had resulted in the deaths of 24 security personnel and injuring 12 soldiers of the Pakistan Army.
Balochistan bans entry of NATO/ISAF supply trucks
Mimicing a move by the federal government, the government of Balochistan has banned the entry and exit of containers bearing fuel and other supplies for Afghanistan based ISAF and NATO troops
Chief Minister, Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, has issued an order asking district authorities at Lasbela and Jaffarabad to bar NATO oil tankers and containers from entering Balochistan with immediate effect.
According to a statement issued here on Saturday night, it said that the bar was in reaction to the NATO air strikes on the Pakistani border posts in Mohmand Agency.
Containers and oil tankers carrying fuel and military hardware were stopped near Chaman, a township that shares Paksitan’s border with Afghanistan. Border security forces did not allow the Afghanistan bound trucks to cross the border.
Another convoy of NATO oil tankers and containers was on its way to Chaman from Dasht area was stopped near Akhtarabad, a suburb of Quetta. The convoy was escorted by Balochistan Levies and security forces.
Long queue was seen in Chaman and Akhtarabad as they were not allowed to proceed further.
On average 200 NATO containers and oil tanker cross Chaman border everyday. “We were asked to hold NATO containers and oil tankers,” a senior official said, adding that foolproof security was being provided to NATO trucks in order to thwart any attack from hostile elements.
NATO suppliers are escorted by personnel of Levies and security forces since they are often targeted by armed groups in Balochistan.
Top echelon condemn 'unacceptable' checkpost attack
Earlier, the attacks had drawn a strong reaction from Pakistan with NATO supplies being halted, the US Ambassador to Pakistan being summoned and condemnations from the highest offices in Pakistani government.
Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, and the army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani all condemned the attack, terming it “unacceptable”.
President’s spokesperson, Farhatullah Babar said that the President had called the attack by NATO/ISAF helicopters, resulting in loss of precious lives of Pakistani soldiers, as unacceptable. President Zardari said a strong protest had also been registered with NATO and ISAF over the incident and they have been asked to take urgent action against those responsible for this aggression.
The powerful Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, directed in a statement issued by the Pakistani military that "all necessary steps be under taken for an effective response to this irresponsible act.
"A strong protest has been launched with NATO/ISAF in which it has been demanded that strong and urgent action be taken against those responsible for this aggression," the statement continued.
Gilani had summoned Cabinet’s Defence Committee for a meeting which is currently underway at the PM house.
Protests lodged with US, NATO/ISAF
Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir on Saturday called in US Ambassador Cameron Munter to lodge a strong protest on the unprovoked NATO/ISAF attack.
The Foreign Secretary conveyed to the US Ambassador that the unprovoked attack by NATO/ISAF had deeply incensed the Government and the people of Pakistan, according to a press statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The President, the Prime Minister and the Government of Pakistan strongly condemn the attacks which were totally unacceptable, constituted a grave infringement of Pakistan’s sovereignty, were violative of international law and a serious transgression of the oft conveyed red lines and could have serious repercussions on Pakistan-US/NATO/ISAF cooperation”, the statement read.
The Ambassador was informed that the Prime Minister had convened an emergency meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet to evaluate the situation arising from these uncalled for attacks by NATO/ISAF forces.
Strong protests have also been lodged in Washington and at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, the statement added. As reported earlier, Pakistani Embassy in Washington had lodged a verbal complaint with the State Department.
The US embassy in Islamabad had offered condolences.
NATO supplies halted for ‘security reasons’
NATO supply trucks and fuel tankers bound for Afghanistan were stopped at the town of Jamrud in Khyber tribal region near the city of Peshawar hours after the raid, officials said.
One official though said that the supply route had been shut for security reasons.
"There is possibility of attacks on NATO supplies passing through the volatile Khyber tribal region, therefore we sent them back towards Peshawar to remain safe," he said.
The border crossing at Chaman in Balochistan was also closed, Frontier Corps officials said.