Pakistan secretly permitting lethal NATO supply via air

Published: July 1, 2012
Govt, military and US officials reluctant to comment on issue, point towards each other over decision. PHOTO: SHAHZAD JILLANI/FILE

Govt, military and US officials reluctant to comment on issue, point towards each other over decision. PHOTO: SHAHZAD JILLANI/FILE


In blatant disregard to foreign policy terms approved by parliament this year, Pakistan has secretly allowed US-led Nato forces to use its airspace for transporting lethal supplies to Afghanistan, official sources revealed.

It is not clear when the permission was granted but it is believed to be a stop gap arrangement between Pakistan and the United States till they finalise a deal on the resumption of vital land routes for foreign forces in Afghanistan.

But the move is likely to spark a strong public backlash in view of parliament’s resolutions which state that Pakistan’s territory, including its airspace, shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition to Afghanistan.

A credible source told The Express Tribune that the foreign office and the defence ministry were at odds with each other over allowing Nato planes to carry weapons.

The foreign office opposed the decision considering it a violation of parliament’s resolutions. However, it eventually started issuing non-objection certificates (NoCs) to such planes after pressure from defense authorities.

According to the rules, the foreign office forwards NoCs to the Pakistan Air Force, which then allows the aircraft to fly over Pakistan.

However, a senior ministry official denied the foreign office had any part in granting such permission. The official said the role of the foreign office was that of a ‘post office’ in this case and it was the defense ministry and other concerned authorities, which were supposed to determine and grant permission for any planes carrying weapons.

When approached, foreign ministry spokesperson Moazam Ali Khan insisted that all decisions were being taken in line with the resolution of parliament.

“You have to ask this question from the Ministry of Defense,” he replied, when asked if Pakistan had permitted Nato to use its air corridor for transportation of weapons.

However, when contacted, the defense ministry threw the ball in the military’s court, which also refused to comment over the issue, saying it was the prerogative of the government.

Reluctance from the concerned authorities to publically speak on the subject is thought to be linked to the fact that none of the departments wants to take responsibility of allowing lethal supplies via air.

The US, which has voiced frustration over the continued blockade of land routes, would not speak directly on the controversy.

A US embassy spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the development. “We continue to work with the government of Pakistan to resolve the political questions related to the Lines of Communication through Pakistan to supply US/Nato/Isaf forces in Afghanistan,” Mark  Sroh told The Express Tribune, while dodging questions regarding the supply of weapons through air.

Pakistan and the US are currently negotiating a new agreement to reopen land routes. However, talks are deadlocked over the issue of an apology, which Islamabad has been demanding by the US over last year’s Nato cross border raid in Salala that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead.

Earlier this year, Pakistan confirmed that it allowed Nato planes carrying non-lethal supplies to use its air space. But Islamabad has never publically acknowledged that it also granted permission for transportation of weapons.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (60)

  • Mirza
    Jul 1, 2012 - 10:05AM

    The news says ” In blatant disregard to foreign policy terms approved by parliament this year, Pakistan has secretly allowed US-led Nato forces to use its airspace for transporting lethal supplies”
    What is new, no general or SC judge ever considered the parliament or constitution of any value. The PCO SC is bent upon undoing the election results and always aided and abetted in acts of high treason. By going against every elected govt and parliament the judiciary has made a mockery of democracy. The only good thing is the coalition govt has left it for the army to make the decisions and not play the role of an angel.


  • Jul 1, 2012 - 10:31AM

    What’s the news again?


  • Rajendra Kalkhande
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:00AM

    NATO Air-Gate ??


  • Adeel Furqan Ahmad
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:01AM

    Because it is our Pakistan. Anything can happen here.


  • Mahesh Patil
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:03AM

    Pakistan should also demand apology from FM Mulla for beheading 17 soldiers.What is the fault of these soldiers to get cruelly beheaded by these fanatics?


  • fahimalavi
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:09AM

    it is good that pakistani govt. has resumed the NATO supply. But deal should be in favor of pak too


  • waqas
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:17AM

    Another blow to the ego of patriotic Pakistanies. So depressed!!!


  • Asaf
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:18AM

    Revealing the inevitable, no surprises there. Emotional and pseudo nationalistic sloganeering is for public consumption only. ‘Ghairatmandi’ without any realism can take one nowhere in the realm of realpolitik. Rational and even-headed approach with an astute understanding of one’s place in the pecking order of global powers can bring us some credibility. Otherwise, one humiliation will follow another, and the opinion makers will have to keep lying, as usual, to the public to prove otherwise. Welcome to the world of conspiracy theories. Do we still have time to wake up from this self imposed stupor and join the world which is rapidly passing us by in almost every facet of human endeavour?


  • 123
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:18AM

    everyone knows from day one that NATO air corridor is open for non military supplies.Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:21AM

    The greatest ever effrontery and meanness of beggars and slaves leaders…….
    Shame on you Pakistani leadership……


  • Allah Ditta Pakistani
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:28AM

    Government of Pakistan Zinda Bad


  • Saleem
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:44AM

    Hardly surprising. The politicians are there to make statements and get the blame.Recommend

  • Polpot
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:49AM

    US must now also apologise for air freighting lethal supplies thru Pakistani aerospace


  • Saadia
    Jul 1, 2012 - 12:06PM

    I believe in this story as we have the most corrupt govt in Pakistan. These leaders can do anything to get dollars.Recommend

  • khan
    Jul 1, 2012 - 12:15PM

    this is well known… and nothing new. And we all know who are the real decision makers in this country. Time to ask questions against these real people who run the country behind the face of elected govt.


  • A J Khan
    Jul 1, 2012 - 12:32PM

    What a secret. Shared with Express tribune only.


  • karma
    Jul 1, 2012 - 12:35PM

    In a corrupt system, which will permit even bombing of its own territories in exchange for some bribes, nothing comes as a surprise.


  • M. Rafique Zakaria
    Jul 1, 2012 - 12:45PM

    Bunch of liars…..Recommend

  • Karim
    Jul 1, 2012 - 1:30PM

    “But the move is likely to spark a strong public backlash in view of parliament’s resolutions which state that Pakistan’s territory”

    How does ET already know that? Or are they suggesting there should be a strong public backlash? This is a blatant proof of how media influences/shapes public opinion. Maybe a hundred extremists will go on the road and protest but we all know the common man does not care whether the supply routes are open or closed. The proletariat is more concerned with providing for his family and getting a good night’s sleep.


  • BruteForce
    Jul 1, 2012 - 1:43PM

    I didn’t know Parliament had objected to the Air routes, which was how NATO transported lethal weapons since the start of the Afghan war.

    Since Pakistan is a psedo-Democracy, when its actually a part-theocracy such things can happen.


  • Wtf?
    Jul 1, 2012 - 1:47PM

    Time for SC to step in and block this


  • S M Waiz
    Jul 1, 2012 - 2:20PM

    A right decision indeed, we are beggers not master


  • rp
    Jul 1, 2012 - 4:00PM

    beggars have no choice


  • Tipukhan
    Jul 1, 2012 - 4:21PM

    Supreme Court and PAF should immediately enforce bans over NATO supplies via air.Recommend

  • Pakistanii
    Jul 1, 2012 - 4:37PM

    ” judiciary has made a mockery of democracy.” — it is you personal opinion. On the other hand, our incompetent government have mocked the nation and have abuse the what was left of the system, for their personal greed.


  • John
    Jul 1, 2012 - 4:45PM

    We are the allies of US and NATO and should support the war effort in every way let alone create unnecessary hurdles and put the allied forces on risk.


  • Arman
    Jul 1, 2012 - 4:51PM

    what is new ? it had to happen.Recommend

  • Saadkhan
    Jul 1, 2012 - 4:56PM

    @Pakistanii: Courts should not kick out elected governments if people are so fed of this government then why do they do notcome out nations are ruled by people who mirror the morality of society in general .the honourable SC should give decision on asghar khan petition as well.i am not saying that ppp is not corrupt but it is not the only corrupt party in politics what about pmln mqm anp and maulna groupRecommend

  • DevilHunterX
    Jul 1, 2012 - 5:10PM

    PPP lies again. What else is new?


  • Jul 1, 2012 - 5:28PM

    Its no secret that the Air routes were never closed!!!

    ET kindly stop playing with the sentiments of hot blooded Pakistanis who shake up at the mention of the word US.


  • sabeqoon
    Jul 1, 2012 - 5:30PM

    Nato air bridge must be shut down.. We will never betray our beloved shudah nor this sacred Pak mitti !!!


  • Usman
    Jul 1, 2012 - 5:30PM

    Putting the blame first on the judiciary, and now on the defence establishment. Everyone is wrong except the PPP led goernment, how convenient.


  • Cautious
    Jul 1, 2012 - 5:55PM

    How about a new approach — pick a side and stick with it rather than cutting deals with everyone and then reneging on them. If you consider America as your enemy why not just come out and say it — others have Recommend

  • Polpot
    Jul 1, 2012 - 6:09PM

    @Lady Macbeth: When shall we meet again?
    In thunder lightening or in Rain?Recommend

  • elementary
    Jul 1, 2012 - 6:35PM

    When the news says “Pakistan” secretly allowing NATO Air space that means Pakistan government which is headed by PPP right?.
    How someone can find Judiciary responsible for this is absolutely beyond me ,how naive can someone be?.And if your argument is that it’s not in parliament’s hand then why don’t they resign and let someone else do the job.


  • An Observer
    Jul 1, 2012 - 7:32PM

    Not suggesting NATO does not airlift munitions and weapons over Pakistani airspace – I imagine they do – but the article makes the claim without support. None of the unnamed sources actually state this is happening. Have the authors seen one of the NoCs? Are they the proof? If so what do they actually say. Sensationalism, but very sloppy journalism. (And speaking of sloppy, please forgive my double negative in the first sentence.)


  • Babloo
    Jul 1, 2012 - 8:44PM

    Lets put it this way, it has no power to stop air supplies. You can block roads with TTP/Taliban militants. You cannot put them in the sky and if someone tries to shoot the planes down, the airforce may seize to exist.


  • pkbeel
    Jul 1, 2012 - 9:09PM

    if u ask an ordinary Pakistani about NATO supplies his answer will be very simple.. “seize all NATO supplies and stop this drama! ”


  • ahmed
    Jul 1, 2012 - 9:34PM

    Now I understand Zardari and Obama noora Kushti in nato summit. I was wondering why has this government and its mouth pieces insisting on public apology when they knew none was coming. It used to puzzled why has this govt decided to fight with its primary benefactor and pay master.
    Now it is clear that these were all blatant and feeble attempts to fool the unsuspecting public by the government and our holy generals who are as clean as our civilians leaders. Here they have almost 50 soldiers mercilessly slaughtered but they don’t care for them either it is obvious. We know they don’t give a damn about the public.

  • Jul 1, 2012 - 9:48PM

    @Polpot: We’ll meet when the noise of the battle is over, when one side has won and the other side has lost.

    So which one were you again? The toad or the cat. :)

    On topic – It is near impossible to block air routes considering we are not at war…. just yet. ET is walking in the footsteps of the Times of India and sensationalizing news to generate activity. Shoddy journalism I must say.


  • Mirza
    Jul 1, 2012 - 9:52PM

    From the days of Gen Ayub Pakistan was a US ally and still is. In the early days the Pakistani airbases were used to fly spy planes against the USSR. Gen Yehya was so sure about his US friendship that “Enterprise” would come to his help in East Pakistan that he did not stop the atrocities. The Gen Zia waged a war against the USSR with the help of global Jihadists and of course the US. Gen Mush gave Shamsi Airbase to the US again and it was no secret. Gen Mush threw Dr. Khan in jail not for the love of the country but the US. It was the first govt of ZAB which walked out of SEATO and CENTO agreements with the US and now the Shamsi Airbase is back in this corrupt and US agent govt. Last but not the least who released Dr. Khan not the generals?


  • hamza khan
    Jul 1, 2012 - 10:17PM


    you’re misguided, misled, and clearly biased. opening the supply line, in the long run, is actually beneficial for pakistan. the closure of the supply lines was pakistans trump card. you never play your trump card in foreign policy, only use the threat of playing it. now that pakistan has played it, its finding its on the short end of the stick. our ‘ghairat’ is already being trampled. NATO routes will eventually be opened. if the army or airforce are allowing it, i say its wise and much needed. there is no denying we benefit immensely from this route.


  • Ishrat salim
    Jul 1, 2012 - 10:22PM

    Mira sb…..there u go again……defense ministry is under the civil govt & has thus allowed to let it go…so it is the prerogative of the govt & not the army nor SC is involved in this….. & who is making mockery of democracy is well known even by the ordinary people in the street….go into the street & ask any ordinary people & you will get the answer instead of commenting just for the sake of commenting Recommend

  • unbeliever
    Jul 1, 2012 - 11:27PM

    @Lady Macbeth:

    i dread the day when ET becomes TOI.
    we indians will have to go to NEPAL TIMES to get to know the happenings of our neighbours….


  • g
    Jul 2, 2012 - 12:03AM


    Good links demonstrating the root causes of so many problems.

    Pak needs to embrace education and economic development. Violence and scapegoating America will subside if people can feed their families and not fear begin educated (particularly women). Alternatives to utter poverty, despair and madrasas is needed.

    If every Pakistani would allow their own self interest to govern their actions, huge advances would be made. If you forfeit the right to think for yourself you will continue to suffer.


  • Imran Con
    Jul 2, 2012 - 12:54AM

    Sounds like you went out of your way to ignore the fact that they are lethal supplies.


  • Expatriate
    Jul 2, 2012 - 1:14AM

    There is nothing new in the report ET and nothing objectionable if military equipments are transported by NATO using pak space or airports in transit.This is the correct and sensible act by the govt.although they are most corrupt and inefficient .Parliaments follow or should follow the policies of the sitting govt and not vice versa.


  • shazada zahid mahmoud malik loan
    Jul 2, 2012 - 2:04AM

    Where is Defaa Pakistan? Have they gone underground because of the Bounty?


  • Abida Nasreen
    Jul 2, 2012 - 2:41AM

    We strongly protest against the air-bridge used by US/NATO. Its an illegal action committed by US/NATO. Being Pakistani we cannot bear that any country use our air route for weapons. Its against UNO rules/regulations!!!


  • Freeman
    Jul 2, 2012 - 6:13AM

    @Allah Ditta Pakistani: Govt. of Pakistan Zindabad. For what???
    PPP govt. Zindabad for looting of Pakistan with both hands. Govt. Zindabad for destroying of Pakistan and every single institutions.


  • Ahmed
    Jul 2, 2012 - 6:40AM

    People still believe this is democracy and the ever power military industrial complex stopped ruling and looting this unfortunate country and its people


  • SKChadha
    Jul 2, 2012 - 7:24AM

    Service extensions are taking their own toll …. :-)


  • Mirza
    Jul 2, 2012 - 7:30AM

    Sir I am with you 100%. I am only saying that the rightwing holds only the elected govts responsible for all cooperation with the US and call them American agent. There should be open cooperation and the army touts should not victimize HH or the elected govt of cooperation that every army govt has had with the US. I think there is no other practical option but let us not use the card of foreign agent against our elected leaders only. What is the worst problem here is backstabbing by the rightwing.
    Thanks and regards,


  • gp65
    Jul 2, 2012 - 9:08AM

    @Ishrat salim: “Mira sb…..there u go again……defense ministry is under the civil govt & has thus allowed to let it go”

    YEs. Defense ministry is under civilian government but armed force leadership does not report to the defense minister in Pakistan unlike other democracies. Surely you know that.


  • Rao
    Jul 2, 2012 - 12:54PM

    Pakistan sovereignty is ruining under the watch of our beloved Army and intelligence networks. how disgusting.
    any way it is stupid to expect snow fall from the Volcano. Civil War will be the only way for Pakistan survival.
    Allah knows better i do not hope from the people of Pakistan any good. but all my hopes with Allah that he will bring the change through his way, if we don’t!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Reality Bites
    Jul 2, 2012 - 3:07PM

    Beggars can’t be choosers !


  • Nazir Ahmed
    Jul 2, 2012 - 3:40PM


    Recapatulaying history, you forgot that it was Z A Bhutto who derailed Pakistan’s path to unprecedented progress. In his scheme to remove Ayub Khan which shared with some people who are still alive, he got the country into armed coflict with India in the name of supporting/reviving Kashmir’s cause. He ultimately became ruler of a dismembered Pakistan which was once a strong, properous and peacful country enjoying great prestige in the commity of nations as the largest Muslim country of the world. I wish the rulers can return me and those of my age the Pakistan of early sixties.


  • Expatriate
    Jul 3, 2012 - 1:10AM

    @Nazir Ahmed:
    Wishful thinking.Zulfikar Bhutto’s legacy will continue to deepen the misery of the
    country and you know why.


  • Mohammad
    Jul 3, 2012 - 11:18AM

    Being a Pakistani, I have no Objection opening routes for NATO supplies if they comply with the constitution of Pakistan, Pay the toll & Taxes. I also have no objection if Air Force or Army escalate NATO supplies by helping them if the amount is paid.


More in Pakistan