Trucks and other vehicles travel in the mountainous area of Torkham, close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, July 4, 2012. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani premier on Thursday said that the decision to restore ground supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan was taken in the best interest of the country, DawnNews reported.

Speaking during a meeting with Pakistan Muslim League – Q (PML-Q) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Deputy Prime Minister Pervez Elahi, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said that the objective of resuming Nato supplies through Pakistan was to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign coalition forces from war-torn Afghanistan.

The prime minister said that peace and stability in the neighbouring country directly benefits Pakistan. Moreover, Ashraf said that any further delays in reopening ground routes to Nato forces would have adversely affected our relations with Nato member states, including friendly countries and brotherly Muslim countries such as Turkey, Qatar and UAE.

The Prime Minister referred to passage of legislation from the European Parliament that would enhance market access for the Pakistani exports from 2014 onwards under the Generalized System of Preference Plus.

He said it would not have been possible without the active support of some of the EU countries who are part of Nato.

The prime minister said Pakistan was a partner of the international community and was playing its leading role as a frontline state against forces of terrorism.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain supported the government’s decision to reopen Nato supplies and said no country could afford international diplomatic isolation.

He said the Nato forces in Afghanistan represented 50 countries under the UN mandate. He said that the diplomatic impasse over the issue could have created problems for Pakistan at the UN.

He said the foreign policy decisions needed to be taken in a dispassionate and cool-headed manner as stakes were too high to be left at the mercy of emotions and irrational behavior.

After long closure, Nato supplies enter Afghanistan

Customs officials said a pair of trucks carrying Nato supplies crossed into Afghanistan on Thursday, the first time in more than seven months since Pakistan had blocked the usage of its roads to supply troops in Afghanistan.

Customs officials said the container trucks had passed through the Chaman border crossing into southern Afghanistan, a milestone following a deal this week with the United States ending a seven-month impasse.

“We received orders yesterday to allow Nato supply trucks through, but security officials hadn’t received their instructions,” said Imran Raza, a customs official.

“They received their orders today, and now two trucks have crossed the border into Afghanistan.”

The resumption of Nato transit into Afghanistan came two days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, yielding to Pakistani demands, told Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar the United States was sorry for the deaths last November.

Islamabad 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 blockade of 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.

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