Pakistan Set To Open Nato Supply Route

Heads of parties in the ruling coalition and the chiefs of army, air force and the ISI agreed on Wednesday that a decision about military supplies to Nato/Isaf forces through Pakistan would be taken by parliament in its joint session likely to be held on March 19 after the presidential address on March 17.

It was decided that the Parliamentary Committee on National Security would be fully authorised to take a decision about restoration or otherwise of the supplies for Isaf forces in Afghanistan.

ISLAMABAD: Heads of parties in the ruling coalition and the chiefs of army, air force and the ISI agreed on Wednesday that a decision about military supplies to Nato/Isaf forces through Pakistan would be taken by parliament in its joint session likely to be held on March 19 after the presidential address on March 17.

The high-level meeting held in the Presidency was presided over by President Asif Ali Zardari. It was also attended by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

“The meeting was briefed on issues relating to security and foreign policy,” president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

According to a senior official who did not want to be named, the meeting decided that the Parliamentary Committee on National Security would be fully authorised to take a decision about restoration or otherwise of the supplies for Isaf forces in Afghanistan. It is learnt that the committee would recommend to the government to secure ‘better’ terms for reopening the supply routes. It is expected that the government will restore the supplies, but after levying transportation charges on vehicles and goods.

The government suspended the supplies after the Nato attack on Salala checkpost in November last year in which 24 Pakistani soldiers lost their lives.

A one-to-one meeting on Wednesday between President Zardari and Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani decided that relations with the United States would be based on principles of sovereign equality.

The two meetings were held after the US government had announced that restoration of Nato supplies would be of benefit to Pakistan.

The meeting in the Presidency was attended by Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Dr Farooq Sattar, Mir Israrullah Zehri, Munir Khan Orakzai, Engr Shaukatullah, Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Air Chief Marshal Qamar Suleman, ISI Director General Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jillani and former foreign secretary Salman Bashir.

The parliamentary committee is reported to have prepared a series of recommendations on Pakistan-US relations and related issues, including Nato supplies, memo scandal and the issue of Balochistan and will present them at the joint sitting of the two houses of parliament.

The committee began its proceedings on December 2 with an advice from Prime Minister Gilani that ties with the United States were important for a peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict, but needed recalibration in accordance with strategic interests.