FO unsure if agreement signed to resume NATO supplies
06 July, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan on Thursday said that NATO's ground route into Afghanistan has been reopened, but he is unaware whether any agreement has been signed in this connection.
During his weekly briefing, the spokesman said that the two sides were engaged in arrangements but he needed time to check whether any agreement for restoration of NATO supply was signed. "But arrangements are going on, and at present, supply would be carried out as in accordance with the practice in the past."
The briefing was held a day after the federal cabinet's approval of opening up of Ground Lines of Communication into Afghanistan. The resumption comes after a lull of about eight months, as the supply was suspended in the aftermath of November's NATO attack on Salala checkpost, which resulted in the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in Mohmand Agency along the Afghan border.
To a question whether NATO supplies had started crossing into Afghanistan, he said, "Yes, it has started, as the supply [route] was restored."
On the Pakistan-US talks pertaining to reopening the route and an agreement in this connection, he said, "We are not really talking about one particular agreement here, as there were several issues involved, and discussions took place on all those issues."
"There were technical-level talks on various issues and, of course, various proposals were exchanged and discussed. Besides the reopening of Ground Lines of Communication, we also discussed border coordination," he added. "We also discussed drone attacks, so there were various issues discussed at various levels. The statement issued by the [US] State Department and the press release issued by the DCC give you a very clear idea as to what was discussed and the understanding reached between the two sides."
About the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), he said that he could not give the figures at the moment, but it would be a substantial amount, which would hopefully be released soon.
When asked about the text of a conversation between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar that suggested that Pakistan also accepted the mistake that led to the killing of 24 soldiers, he rejected any such thing. "First of all, I think the para(graph) does not say that they 'accepted'. It says they 'acknowledged'. And as far as my understanding of this para(graph) is concerned, Foreign Minister Khar did not say that she accepted or acknowledged that mistakes were made on our part. I think we should read it the way it is, and it says very clearly that the two sides acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives."
To a question on the apology verse containing the word "sorry", he said that loss of lives is always regrettable and, "of course, you feel sorry for that". "The sentiments expressed by the US side give a very fair assessment of what US feelings are about the incident, and it says very clearly that they are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military," Khan said.
About the supply through air and of weapons, the spokesman said that the decision was made in the larger national interest in line with the parliamentary recommendations.
He accepted that several flights were to overfly, but no lethal equipment was allowed and "these could never be termed as military flights". On drone attacks, he reiterated Pakistan's principled stance that they were counterproductive and illegal, and said that talks on the issue would continue with the US.
On India calling upon Pakistan to do more, he said that terrorism was a common issue of the two countries, and Pakistan would investigate allegations if India provided evidence against any person here.