Positive signals from US over Salala apology: Jilani
20 June, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani on Tuesday said that there were positive signals from Washington for apology over Salala incident.
He was talking to a corps of journalist after briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan. To a series of queries, the foreign secretary said, "One thing should be clear that negotiations between the US and Pakistan are in positive zone now."
He added that some progress was made in the talks pertaining to reopening of NATO route and Pakistan-US ties as most of the issues were settled. He said that a guarantee that Salala-like incident would not be repeated was essential besides an apology over what had happened.
He said that chairwoman of the US Congress Intelligence Committee also called upon the US to seek apology for the Salala incident. Some behind-the-scene development is also going on and there are positive signals, he said.
A senior diplomat in a meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reportedly vowed to convey Pakistan's message regarding apology to Washington. After a NATO attack killing 24 Pakistani soldiers about eight months ago, ties between Pakistan and the US touched the lowest ebb in the history of relations between the two countries. After the incident, Pakistan decided to cut off Ground Lines of Communication into Afghanistan for NATO supply. The matter was handed over to parliament that called for unconditional apology for the incident among other recommendations.
"Apology over November's Salala incident is essential and the demand is in line with the parliamentary recommendations. Other issues would also be settled with the US in the light of the recommendations," said Jilani.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the standing committee under chairmanship of Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel was held in-camera as officials said that some sensitive issues that were not supposed to be made public at this stage were discussed in it. However, after the meeting, Haji Adeel said that the sanction on NATO supply via Pakistan would continue until and unless the US apologises for the Salala incident. The demand for apology was recommended by parliament and the government is implementing the decision.
The senator said that Pakistan allowed supply through the ground routes of the country and never thought of the damages as war against terrorists was going on. But now when the US and NATO countries decided to quit Afghanistan, parliament has also decided to ban weapon supply even if NATO route is reopened. "We are also concerned for repairing the roads and restoring infrastructure that was damaged in the last 10 years as a result of the supply. He said that estimated cost of reconstructing roads is about $20.3 billion."
He said that the NATO supply through Central Asia is putting extra cost on shoulders of the US. "Per container cost is about $6,200-$9,040 and the route is long beside the trouble created by a tunnel in the way." He said that ties with the US damaged only in the last four years. "Ties with NATO member countries, Russia and India, have also improved. So Pakistan's foreign policy is a success," he said.
The meeting was also attended by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other members of the committee.