ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal cabinet on Wednesday gave a nod to its defence committee’s decision of restoring ground routes to Nato supplies — seven months after the country blocked its border to the Afghan-bound convoys.
A formal approval for Tuesday’s decision by the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) was given during a meeting of the federal cabinet held here today under Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s chairmanship at the PM Secretariat.
“The meeting of Pakistan’s defence committee (DCC) of the cabinet has decided to reopen the Nato supplies,” information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira had told reporters on Tuesday.
An official statement from the prime minister’s office had said: “The DCC also decided that no lethal cargo will go into Afghanistan except equipment for Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), essential for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
“The DCC reconfirmed that Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee but the issue in the first place was not of financial gains but of the principle of sovereignty,” added the statement.
The decision to reopen the routes was taken after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was sorry for the loss of life in a US air raid last year.
“We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again,” said Clinton.
Pakistan had closed its borders to Nato supply lines after US airstrikes killed 24 of its soldiers at a checkpost in Salala on Nov 26. The seven-month blockage of the key supply lines were costing the US and Nato forces billions of dollars in added fuel costs as it ferried containers through an alternative network of northern supply routes through Central Asia.
The routes are vital for the US and its Nato allies as it prepares to withdraw troops and equipment from war-torn Afghanistan ahead of a 2014 deadline.