Pakistan on Thursday made it clear that a new arrangement would have to be drawn up for the transit of supplies to the U.S.-led NATO troops in Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.
Briefing the media on Thursday after a meeting with U.S. Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said the arrangement that existed prior to the closure of NATO supply lines in November would no longer be valid. “We have to work out a new arrangement” and the routes would reopen when the Cabinet took a decision, he said.
He admitted that Pakistan was in exploratory talks with the U.S. on the lines, which were closed by Islamabad in protest following the attack on the Salala post in Mohmand agency along the border with Afghanistan in which 26 soldiers were killed.
According to Mr. Grossman, the U.S. did not expect the groundlines of communications — Washington parlance for NATO supply lines — to be reopened in this visit — his first since the Salala attack. He remained non-committal on the possibility of President Barack Obama tendering an unconditional apology for the Salala attack, saying he had already spoken on this extremely eloquently. The Ambassador earlier reiterated the American regret for the incident.
About the guidelines set by Parliament for engagement with the U.S., Mr. Grossman said Washington had respect for the process and the seriousness with which the review was undertaken. “We understand and respect this public discussion because we respect democracy.” However, he refused to comment on whether the U.S. was apprehensive of any provision of the guidelines, maintaining that it would be neither useful nor proper as a foreigner to comment.
On the crucial question of reopening supply lines for NATO through Pakistan, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) had in its first report said that reopening should be contingent upon a thorough revision of the terms and conditions by which NATO supplies transit through Pakistan, adding that such goods should be subject to Pakistani scrutiny.
The PCNS in its revised report did not say anything about reopening but maintained that “Pakistani territory including its air space shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition of Afghanistan”. This has been interpreted as a conditional nod for allowing transit of all other supplies.