ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has refused to give a timeline for the resumption of Nato supplies, suspended last week after the US-led coalition forces’ incursions into the country’s tribal belt.
As two Nato oil tankers were set on fire near Mangochar area of Kalat district on Monday, the supply of goods to Nato troops in Afghanistan remained suspended at Torkham border for the sixth consecutive day with the US hoping that the restriction will be lifted ‘very soon’. The oil tankers, which were heading towards Kandahar from Karachi, were intercepted by armed men on the national highway. The assailants set both the tankers ablaze and fled the scene. The oil tankers were completely destroyed in the attack. However, no casualty was reported. On Sunday night, at least three people were killed and nine others were injured when unknown militants attacked one of the private Nato depots in Rawalpindi. Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed to target Nato supplies in a bid to “avenge” the increased number of US drone attacks and Nato helicopter strikes in the tribal areas.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who met the Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels, said reopening of border will depend on the cooling down of public anger. “Unless the reaction cools down and we make sure that the supply line is secured, we cannot reopen it,” a Foreign Office statement quoted Qureshi as telling the Nato’s secretary general.
Foreign Minister Qureshi also conveyed Pakistan’s “deep concern” over the cross- border violations. The minister made clear that the UN’s mandate for International Assistance Security Forces was confined to the Afghan border, urging the US-led coalition force to refrain from violating Pakistan’s sovereignty.
According to a statement issued by the Nato headquarters, the secretary general offered regrets and condolences over the killing of Pakistan security officials in one of the Nato airstrikes.
“Obviously, it was unintended,” the statement quoted the secretary general as telling Foreign Minister Qureshi. “We have to make sure we improve coordination between our militaries and our Pakistani partners,” he was quoted as saying.
The secretary general also hoped that the border will be opened for Nato supplies soon. Also, a Foreign Office official told The Express Tribune that supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan are expected to resume later this week if the security situation improves.
Publsihed in The Exprsss Tribune, October 5th, 2010.
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