Pakistan not to change stance on US apology
30 June, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Naveed Qamar on Friday said that Pakistan's stance regarding US apology over the Salala incident would remain unchanged.
He however clarified that negotiations on Pakistan-US ties were proceeding in the right direction and expressed hope for an early decision pertaining to restoration of NATO supplies.
When asked if NATO supply routes would be reopened without a US apology, he again said that Pakistan would not change its position on the issue. "The government wants to play its role in the comity of nations without compromising its supreme national interests," he said.
After the Salala incident, Pakistan blocked the NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, following which, several rounds of talks were held between the two countries to reopen the routes. Sources say Pakistan has been demanding guarantees that such incidents do not happen again, besides seeking an apology. "Pakistan needs guarantees that Salala-like incident would not happen again, but no final decision in accordance with the expectations of the country is reached yet," the sources said.
Speaking about the affairs of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the minister expressed hope that Rao Qamar Suleman – the head of the organisation – would be able to bring improvement through reforms, besides overcoming the shortage of aircraft.
Also present on the occasion was the PIA chief, who spoke about the airline's affairs and preparations for the Hajj operation. To a query, the chairman said that elaborate arrangement were being made for the Hajj operation. Authorities had grounded some aircraft for inspection and maintenance in a bid to make them ready for the Hajj season, he said. He also reiterated that the airline's problems would be overcome in one year.
Later, the defence minister was briefed about the performance, requirements and future plans of the PIA.
US ready to discuss Salala apology
The US is ready to hold talks on apology over Salala's incident, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and some progress has been made in this connection, sources in the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
They said that talks on guaranteeing that Salala-like incidents would not happen again and steps to ensure stopping cross-border intrusions have already started.
Asked as whether the US would be ready to seek an apology over Salala incident, US embassy spokesman Mark Stroh never rejected the possibility, but said that indeed this is a political level question and version at this stage is not possible.
He told our sources that Washington is supporting border coordination and it wants that mishap should not take place in future.
To a question as whether the US is going to discuss apology, he said that Washington is ready for further talks when Pakistan would be ready as negotiations at technical level were concluded. Foreign Office Spokesman Moazzam Khan said some progress had been made on all issues between the two sides.