NATO supplies through Pakistan’s Torkham border crossing into Afghanistan resumed Sunday, 11 days after Islamabad closed the point in response to a NATO air attack, officials said.
“The first convoy of more than a dozen vehicles left for Afghanistan this afternoon,” customs official Mohammad Nawaz told AFP.
More vehicles loaded with supplies for NATO and US troops were ready to leave, he added.
Updated from print edition (below)
Torkham border reopened
Pakistan finally decided to reopen a key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) supply route on Saturday, shut down on September 30 following the cross border raid that killed two security officials.
The decision to resume supplies for US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan at Torkham border was taken after assessing the security situation in all its aspects, said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.
“Our relevant authorities are now in the process of coordinating with authorities on the other side of the border to ensure smooth resumption of the supply traffic,” it added.
Though the border crossing is reopened with immediate effect, thousands of trucks stranded for the last 10 days at Torkham would not be able to start rolling ahead before Monday, officials said. The border normally remains closed on Sundays.
US Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire welcomed the government’s decision, terming it a “positive development.”
Pakistan suspended Nato supplies in reaction to US-led forces’ repeated incursions into its territory last week.
Militants burnt down over 150 Nato trucks since then in different parts of the country.
Islamabad lodged a strong protest with the US-led forces in Afghanistan and demanded an apology.
On Thursday, top US military and civilian leadership offered a rare public apology to Pakistan over the cross border attack after a joint Pakistan-Nato investigation concluded that the US helicopters violated the country’s airspace several times on September 30.
Nato, in the joint probe, conceded that the incident could have been avoided had there been better coordination with the Pakistan military.
Officials said Pakistan reopened the Nato supplies only after the US had given firm assurance that the coalition forces would not violate the country’s sovereignty again.
Almost three-quarters of non-lethal Nato goods were once used to transit through Pakistan.
According to the US Embassy, now only about 40 per cent of supplies come through Pakistan and the rest of them either are being transported through the Central Asian routes or by air.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2010.