Pak to Negotiate Terms for Reopening NATO Routes

Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
Pak to Negotiate Terms for Reopening NATO Routes
Pakistan's top civilian and military leadership today decided to forge a "work plan" and negotiate new terms for reopening NATO supply routes as part of efforts for resetting the troubled relationship with the US, which has been hit by a string of crises since last year.

The decision was made at a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. The meeting was attended by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, other service chiefs, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and key federal ministers.

In his address at the meeting, Gilani said Pakistan's "fundamental policy parameters" would include a "roadmap for re-engagement with the United States" and "negotiation of new terms and conditions for resumption of the Ground Lines of Communication" and joint counter-terrorism cooperation.

Officials said the "Ground Lines of Communication" was a reference to the NATO supply routes, which were closed in November after a cross-border air strike by American forces in Afghanistan killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

After the attack, Gilani had ordered a parliamentary review of Pakistan-US ties.

Gilani further said in his address that other policy parameters for resetting the relationship with the US included "greater inter-agency coordination, transparency in US diplomatic and intelligence footprint in Pakistan, strengthening of border security and non-use of Pakistan's territory for attacks on other countries".

At the same time, Pakistan would expel all foreign fighters from its territory, he said.

The Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) came to the decisions about resetting the relationship with the US after discussing guidelines for Pakistan's foreign and security polices that were approved by a joint session of parliament on April 12, an official statement said.

"It was decided that a work plan may be developed for effective implementation of the parliamentary guidelines based on Pakistan’s national interests," the statement said.

The DCC decided that there would be "no compromise on Pakistan’s nuclear programme and agreed that government may pursue the aim of international civilian nuclear cooperation".

The civilian and military leadership further agreed that parliamentary review and oversight would give public ownership to foreign and security policies and help strengthen the government’s hands in dealing with the world community.

The DCC strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul and other Afghan cities and "reaffirmed Pakistan's support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive peace and reconciliation process", the statement said.

Gilani told the meeting the parliamentary review had given Pakistan a unique opportunity to set right its relationship with the US on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest.

The civilian and military leadership also offered prayers for the 138 people buried by an avalanche that hit a battalion headquarters in the Siachen sector on April 7 and decided to declare April 20 as Youm-e-Dua (day of prayers).
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