Pakistan agrees to restore NATO supplies, revive normal ties

NATO supplyWASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: Senior US officials say they have been informed by Pakistani authorities that a high-level meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday agreed in principle to restore supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan and to revive normal relationship.

President Asif Ali Zardari presided over the meeting and was attended by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Air Chief Marshal Qamar Suleman and DG ISI Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha. Senior coalition leaders including Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and MQM leader Farooq Sattar were also attending the meeting.

The rare meeting of the country’s top civilian and military leadership as well as key allies was called just days ahead of the joint session of the parliament that will mark the new parliamentary year but will mainly focus on the debate on the future relationship with the US and NATO allies.Although the government spokesmen told the media that the meeting reiterated the government’s earlier stance that the parliament will take decision on the NATO supply and relationship with the US, the leaders agreed to restore land route for NATO and revive normal ties with the US.

Senior US officials in Washington said they have been conveyed after the Islamabad meeting about the decisions.In return the U.S. will also allow the equipments delivery to Pakistan which had been blocked after Islamabad blocked NATO supply line in November.Pakistan blocked supplies for nearly 150,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan as protest against the air strikes by the American fighter jets and helicopters in Muhmand triabl region and killed 24 soldiers.Pakistan had also vacated the key Shamsi airbase from the US army and had boycotted the Bonn conference on Afghanistan as a protest.

Pakistan had also refused to welcome top US military leaders and diplomats until parliamentary review is completed, which had also been delayed for some time.But the meeting also decided to receive the top US visitors whenever they want to visit Pakistan and they agreed with the proposed visit of the US Centcom chief General Mathis, who is likely to visit later this month.General Mathis told reporters in Washington last week that he will discus, besides other important issues, the plan of using Pakistan land route for the American troops at the time of withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“This has also been conveyed to the U.S. authorities in Washington,” the US sources said. The US plans to withdraw several thousands troops this year as part of its Afghan exit strategy.The summoning of long-awaited joint session of the parliament to meet on March 17 is also in line with the understanding reached in the Wednesday’s meeting, sources told Online in Islamabad.The Parliamentary Committee on National Security had been tasked with giving recommendations to reevaluate ties with the U.S./NATO and ISAF following the the NATO, which has already submitted its recommendations.

Participants of the meeting were of the view that the coalition will have no problem to dominate the join session of the parliament during debate on US ties as they are now in complete command of both houses of the parliament, official sources in Islamabad said.The US sources said that after positive signals from Islamabad, the Obama administration also decided to release defence equipment for Pakistan that had been stopped in reaction to Pakistani steps.In another major development, the army chief has told the meeting that the military will fully respect decision by the parliament and civilian leadership, sources in Islamabad said. – Onlinenews