Islamabad, July 3: Pakistan today decided to re-open the Nato supply routes into Afghanistan after a formal apology by the US over a November 2011 air strike on a Pakistani military post that killed 24 soliders.
The decision to re-open the supply routes, which remained closed for over seven months was taken by the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), which met in Islamabad under Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and attended by Chairman Joint Chiefs General Khalid Shamim Wynne, army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, naval and air chiefs and ministers for foreign affairs, finance and defence.
Pakistan conveyed its decision to the US, which has been pressing hard for resumption of the Ground Lines of Communications after secretary of state Hilary Clinton called her Pakistani countrpart Hina Rabbani Khar and tendered a formal apology.
She said in a statement: “Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives,” Clinton said in a statement.
“We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military,” Clinton said, adding that “we are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again”.
“The DCC decided to reopen the Ground Lines of Communication through Pakistani territory to and from Afghanistan to facilitate the transition and the subsequent transformation process in that country,” an official statement issued late today said.
The DCC also decided that no lethal cargo will go into Afghanistan except equipment for Afghan national security forces (ANSF), essential for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The committee reconfirmed that Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee but the issue in the first place was not of financial gains but of the principle of sovereignty.
“The DCC stressed that, as recommended by the Parliament, Pakistan’s future relations with the US must be based on mutual respect and mutual interest and conducted in a transparent manner,” the statement said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Ashraf told the meeting that the continued closure of supply lines not only impinge on Pakistan's relationship with the US, but also on our relations with the 49 other member states of Nato/ISAF.
Information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira welcomed secretary Clinton’s statement in a media interaction tonight ahd said that Pakistan would not charge any additional transit charges, adding that resumption of the supply line was essential for pe in Afghanistan and that “it has been re-opened after a formal apology by the US”.
Pakistan had shut its supply routes from the borders towns of Torkham in the northwest and Chaman in the southwest and asked the US to vacate the remote southwestern Shamsi airbase after the Nato air strike in November.
Ties between the two allies deteriorated beyond any repair after US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May last year without informing Pakistani authorities in advance of the raid and later accusing the powerful intelligence agency ISI of complicity and incompetence.