Pakistan, US reach accord on restoring NATO supplies

Nato supplies

ISLAMABAD: Intense negotiations between US Special Envoy Marc Grossman and Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership have finally paved the way for the reopening of blocked NATO supplies and release of arrears under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) by Washington, and a breakthrough in this regard is likely in a day or two, Pakistan Today learnt on Sunday.

This breakthrough is said to be planned for Monday (today) but Sunday’s drone strike in North Waziristan by CIA despite a clear ‘no’ to such attacks by Pakistani parliament has not gone down well with Pakistani authorities and it could impact the process of reconciliation between Islamabad and Washington.Ambassador Grossman’s recent trip to Islamabad, according to diplomatic circles here, was the most difficult in his diplomatic career and he and other US officials in his delegation had to do tough negotiations with Pakistani authorities who were unflinching in their demands for an apology by Obama administration over last year’s NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and the immediate release of over a billion dollars blocked CSF dues for Islamabad.

Leading US newspaper New York Times in its report on Grossman’s visit had dubbed his talks with Pakistani authorities as inconclusive and his trip as an unsuccessful one but the Pakistani diplomats and officials privy with the last two days developments say that after hectic consultation both through diplomatic and military channels, Islamabad and Washington have decided to reopen the NATO supplies and release the CSF dues.“It’s a very important development and we can see a breakthrough in this regard in a day or two,” said a Pakistani diplomat. However, he expressed deep concern over Sunday’s drone strike in North Waziristan, the first one in nearly a month, saying such efforts could again sabotage the whole process and impact the reconciliatory efforts.

He also said that the US was also likely to come up with an apology over the NATO strikes that took place last year in November after which Pakistan blocked the NATO supplies in retaliation.“Ambassador Grossman has left Islamabad but around 10 American officials are still here finalizing a deal on NATO reopening and CSF arrears’ release,” the diplomat said.A member of the federal cabinet, Sheikh Waqas Akram disclosed that Islamabad and Washington were very close to reaching a deal on NATO supplies and CSF dues’ release.

“Yes that is true, this breakthrough is imminent and it was revealed by Ambassador Grossman himself when he met me and some other parliamentarians in his recent visit to Islamabad,” Akram, the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, said. He said that a breakthrough on NATO supplies and CSF arrears, according to his information was about to take place today (Monday) but the latest drone strike in North Waziristan could again sabotage the reconciliatory efforts. “It seems that the hawkish elements in US establishment and among the political circles there do not want the improvement of ties between Pakistan and the US,” Akram said. – PT