Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pakistan military commanders tell govt not ready yet to reopen US and NATO supplies


Pakistan's top decision-making body on national security has delayed decision to reopen key supply route for NATO-led troops in neighboring Afghanistan, local media reported on Wednesday.

Pakistan closed the supply line in November last year after 24 soldiers were killed in a NATO airstrike on Pakistani border posts.

The Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), which blocked NATO supplies a day after the deadly NATO raids, failed Tuesday evening to make a decision to reopen the supply line.

The parliament, which adopted a resolution on future relations with the U.S. on April 12, had left the decision to reopen the NATO supply route to the government.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani presided over the DCC meeting attended by key members of cabinet, three services chiefs and the head of Inter-Services Intelligence.

While delaying decision to resume NATO supply line, the meeting "linked the decision with certain positive steps by the United States", the leading Urdu language daily Jang reported.

The decision was deferred for the sake of "national interest" after senior military leaders "expressed reservations", the report said.

The meeting was informed about the delay in payment to Pakistan by the U.S. despite promises and it was decided to wait for the response of the country's Finance Minister, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who is currently holding talks with American officials in Washington, the daily said.

The meeting has instructed the Foreign Ministry to work out a plan for relationship with the U.S. in line with the parliamentary guidelines with focus on three major issues: the U.S. must make an apology for the NATO strike on Pakistani checkposts; bring those involved in the strike to justice; and bring end to U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's northwest tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

The meeting was told that the U.S. will stop drone strikes after all foreign fighters are expelled from the tribal regions, whom the U.S. considers as a serious threat, the report said.

The DCC directed to chalk out an operational plan to clear the lawless tribal region of foreign militants, whose presence prompts U.S. drone strikes.
 China's Xinhua(People's Daily Online)

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