Pakistan on Thursday reiterated again for an apology for a Nato cross-border strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011, before it considers reopening supply routes to foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, speaking to reporters in the Afghan capital Kabul, also rejected reports that Islamabad was haggling with the US over transportation fees for the supplies. “Pakistan still wants an unconditional apology and the reassurance that the Salala type of incident does not happen again,” Khar said. The supply lines for goods shipped to the Pakistani port city of Karachi and trucked to Afghanistan have been vital for US-led forces in their involvement in the landlocked country, a conflict now in its 11th year.
The routes are seen as important for the withdrawal of most foreign troops from Afghanistan before the end of 2014. Washington has rebuffed Islamabad’s demands for an apology for the air strike, and last week Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the US was running out of patience with Pakistan for not eliminating safe-havens of the Haqqani Network and other militants who launch attacks on US troops. Islamabad has consistently denied any support for such terrorists, and reiterated it was doing everything possible to fight terrorism, say no country had suffered more from terrorism.
Khar also reiterated that stance, saying that Pakistan was not supporting any militant group, and that it was doing whatever it could to advance the peace process in Afghanistan, which she said must be “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned.”
Karzai calls on Pakistan
to help end war
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday called for greater regional and international cooperation to stabilise his war-torn country and defeat al Qaeda and Taliban militants, during the latest round of talks on the future of the country.
Representatives from 29 countries gathered in Kabul for the day-long conference to chalk out the future strategy, after the planned withdrawal of Nato troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. During the talks, he called on international powers and neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, to help stimulate economic growth and peace in the impoverished country. Karzai urged Pakistan to support nascent efforts to end the 10-year war in Afghanistan. “Support from these global powers and Pakistan is very important to Afghanistan and to the continued progress of it towards stability and economic development,” he told the delegates.
The latest plea towards Pakistan comes at a time when relations between Kabul and Islamabad have been clouded by mutual blame for militant violence plaguing both countries. Karzai has consistently called on Pakistan to demolish terror sanctuaries in the semi-autonomous North and South Waziristan.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.