A Senate panel on foreign affairs endorsed the government’s decision to reopen NATO supply routes on Wednesday amidst concerns over a delay of five months.
During a briefing by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, she admitted that Pakistan unnecessarily prolonged parliamentary deliberations beyond January and dragged its feet over resolving the stand-off.
She added that Pakistan had opted for a firm position after the Salala check-post incident by refusing the participation in the Bonn conference despite relentless pressure from all over the world.
Khar told the committee that “the deep-seated cause of difficulties in Pak-US ties was the trust deficit due to different reasons, mainly including long demanded action against the Haqqani Network and alleged safe havens of militants in Pakistan.”
The foreign minister also observed, “After the settlement with the US we should use the opportunity and not let it go.”
While explaining the position of the US, she said it strongly believes that terrorists are still present in tribal areas of Pakistan and drones are the only way to eliminate them – but, she added “now it’s time to move on for a coordinated effort against militancy keeping in view Pakistan’s concerns over the unilateral actions of US and collateral damage caused by drone strikes.”
The chairperson of the panel, Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, lauded the government’s decision but also expressed serious concerns over the delayed process of reopening routes.
Adeel said, “The government’s decision to resume NATO supplies was right but we are still unable to understand that why it did not accept the US apology in January even while it was aware of the consequences of the blockade.”
The chairperson added that it had been conveyed to the foreign ministry that the road network used for Nato supplies was in terrible condition and that billions of dollars would be needed to repair it. He disclosed that the ministry informed the committee that a Memorandum of Understanding to rehabilitate Pakistan’s road infrastructure would be signed in September 2012.
The meeting was earlier open for the media coverage but with the arrival of foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Senator Adeel asked the journalists to leave the committee room to hold the rest of the proceedings in-camera. He then shared details of the meeting with the media after the proceedings were over.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2012.
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