After weeks of hard talk, Pakistan inked a new deal with the US on Tuesday to govern arrangements for Nato supplies to Afghanistan, replacing the vague memorandum of understanding that existed between the two countries since 2004.
The deal came a day before three-day visit of Pakistan's intelligence chief, lieutenant general Zaheer ul-Islam, to Washington on August 1 for talks with CIA officials in an early sign of new but shaky reconciliation. The agreement was part of an overall review Pakistan had sought in its ties with the US in the wake of last year's Nato air raid which killed 24 soldiers, causing a seven-month blockade of land routes for Nato-led forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan ended the blockade after US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said a symbolic "sorry" for the soldiers' deaths.
The new agreement was signed by US deputy ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland and Pakistan additional secretary of defence rear admiral Farrokh Ahmad in Rawalpindi. It will be effective till December 31, 2015 and could be extended for one year after consultations.
As part of the agreement, the US will release $1.1 billion under the Coalition Support Fund to reimburse the troubled nation for fighting militants within its borders.
According to the draft, Islamabad will not allow the transport of arms and ammunition into Afghanistan through its territory. However, military equipment for the Afghan National Army will be allowed. Transport of non-lethal cargo which includes food and medicine will be allowed in containers measuring 20 feet by 40 feet.
Two routes have been identified for the Nato trucks. Containers on the southern route will travel from Karachi (Bin Qasim Port) via Chaman in Balochistan province while the northern route caters to supplies from Karachi via Torkham in Khyber tribal region. The MoU states that Pakistan will not provide warehouses or storage facilities for the goods.
Pakistan has agreed to provide facilities for security and quick transfer of cargo and will keep the US informed about the transit points of shipments. But the government will not be responsible for any damage to carriers.