ISLAMABAD: Pakistan confirmed late Tuesday that it had decided to reopen vital Nato supply routes into Afghanistan which have been closed since November, a government spokesman said.
“The meeting of Pakistan's defence committee (DCC) of the cabinet has decided to reopen the Nato supplies,” the minister of information, Qamar Zaman Kaira, told reporters in Islamabad.
The official announcement came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday Pakistan was re-opening the supply routes and that the United States was “sorry” for losses suffered by the Pakistani military in November.
The supply routes have been shut since November when an American aircraft mistakenly killed 24 Pakistan soldiers, aggravating already difficult relations between Washington and Islamabad.
The announcement, following months of negotiations, will come as a relief to the United States and its Nato allies who need the routes for a planned withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf chaired the meeting which was attended by Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the ISI intelligence agency, Zaheer ul Islam, other than senior ministers.
An official statement from the prime minister's office 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,” it added.
Kaira added that Pakistan “had made it clear” it would “not tolerate any repetition of incidents” such as the one that shut the supply routes.
Earlier, Pakistan's new prime minister acknowledged that continuing the seven-month blockade was negatively affecting relations with the United States and other Nato member states.