Talks on NATO route not completed


Certain hurdles like no conclusion of negotiation by ministries and related departments in addition to the question of the controversy of apology by US are delaying finalizing restoration of the NATO supply, official sources said.
Despite hectic efforts by the US and Pakistan, division between the two countries are looming over opening up of the what is being termed as Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs) to allow supplies to the NATO in Afghanistan.
Sources in finance and foreign affairs ministries said that talks on the restoration of NATO supply were not yet completed. In line with the instruction from Defence Committee of the Cabinet ministries have to conclude talks on reopening NATO route.
Diplomatic sources said that though opening the route for the US mission’s shipments Friday was perceived as start of the restoration of the supplies to Afghanistan, but resolving the issues doesn’t seem as easy as it is perceived.
However, the embassy’s Spokesman Mark Stroh said that it is not better to discuss the negotiations in public, adding, “Talks on the issue of reopening NATO route between the US and Pakistan are moving forward.”
The diplomatic sources, who urged for not disclosing their identities, said that before President Zardari departure for attending the NATO summit, Pakistan had made it clear that all the negotiations with the US and pertaining to reopening NATO route would be held in the light of the Parliamentary recommendations.
The refusal by Obama administration to tender apology has also caused delay in the restoration.
The US is also reluctant to meet financial demand of Islamabad. In an interview Defence Secretary Leon E. Panetta ruled out paying Pakistan $5000 for each truck carrying supplies across to Afghanistan via its territory.
“As decided by the Defence Committee of the Cabinet negotiations on NATO supply, question of apology, fresh border ground rules and cessation of drone attacks are being carried out in a transparent manner,” the spokesman of the foreign ministry stated.
The parliament in clear recommendations demanded unconditional apology over the incident of the US-led NATO air strike on Pakistan ’s Salala killing 24 soldiers and cessation of the drone attacks that have been continuing in Pakistani tribal belt since 2004.
Few days back Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also expressed Pakistan intention to tax the supply to Afghanistan for coalition forces.
The sources informed that the cost of the supplies and logistics that are being transported to Afghanistan for NATO is being incurred by the US.
Pakistan continues to remain engaged with the US on all issues, and decisions would be taken in the best national interest, an officials in the ministry of foreign affairs told this scribe when he was asked as whether Islamabad would be adamant to its demand regarding the apology or charging NATO containers.
NATO supply via Pakistan is already continuing through air routes but the transportation via its soil was blocked after the Salala incident.
The source said that possibility is there that the US would be ready for a sort of apology and Pakistan for lowering amount that would be charged per NATO container.
Dr. Riffat Hussain, well-known analyst and chairman Defense and Strategic Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University, said that restoration of the NATO supply is likely to be decided after Chicago Summit probably in 10-15 days.
“Apology has now become irrelevant and on drone attacks the Americans has different views from us. As far as the tax on NATO supplies are concern it is negotiable. I think Washington would finally be ready to pay 1000-1200 in dollars per truck and the demand of $ 5000 by Pakistan is not seem to be met.”
Hundreds of NATO tankers have been stranding due the blockade imposed after the November incident killing Pakistani soldiers.


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