NATO urges Pak to reopen blocked Afghan supply route "as soon as possible"

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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Brussels, Oct 5 (ANI): Pakistan has expressed its deep concern to NATO over the its territory violations and the recent cross-border air attacks by NATO and ISAF forces, whereas NATO has expressed regret over the death of 3 soldiers in one of its air raids, and urged Pakistan to reopen the concerned supply route "as soon as possible".

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the sidelines of the Eight Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM-8) summit in Brussels, at the NATO Headquarters, and raised Pakistan's concerns, The Nation reported.

Qureshi emphasised that the UN mandate for the ISAF was confined to Afghanistan, and NATO and ISAF forces were again advised to refrain from any actions that constituted a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

Pakistan would defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity at any cost, he said, making it clear to Rasmussen that the Pakistani government had many other options in case of similar violations in future.

Apprising Rasmussen of the gravity of public anger over NATO intrusions, Qureshi said that no time frame could be given for reopening the supply line for coalition troops in Afghanistan, adding that the blockage would be removed only after public anger over the incursions subsided and the security situation improved.

"Unless the reaction cools down and we make sure that the supply line is secured, we cannot reopen it," he said.

Following their meeting, Rasmussen said he had a "good and open discussion" with Qureshi, and that NATO and Pakistan needed to "improve" and "step up" cooperation on the Afghan-Pakistani border region to prevent Taliban insurgents from crossing the frontier to attack foreign troops fighting in Afghanistan.

"I expressed my regrets for the incident last week in which Pakistani soldiers lost their lives," he said, adding, "I expressed condolences to the families. Obviously this incident was unintended," he added.

"I expressed hope the border will be open for supplies as soon as possible," he said. "The foreign minister committed himself to work on this."

Meanwhile, Pakistan kept the NATO supply route through Torkham in Khyber Agency blocked for the sixth consecutive day on Tuesday, as hundreds of tankers and containers queued up at the border point. (ANI)

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