ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will only re-open a supply route for coalition troops in Afghanistan once public anger over NATO incursions eases and security improves, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday. “Unless the reaction cools down and we make sure that the supply line is secured, we cannot reopen it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told a foreign news agency.
Basit said NATO has started a joint investigation into the border incursions that killed three Pakistani soldiers last week.The three Pakistani troops were killed in an early morning raid on Thursday when NATO choppers fired at a Pakistani military post 200 metres inside the border in Kurram Agency. NATO said aircraft had entered Pakistani airspace Thursday in self-defence and killed “several armed individuals” after the crews believed they had been fired at from the ground. Basit expressed hope that the probe will bring a ‘positive outcome’.
“Both government and the public have shown their harsh reaction after the issue and it’s also true that such attacks have always undermined our efforts in war on terrorism,” the Pakistani official added. Militants on Saturday threatened more attacks on tankers carrying fuel to Afghanistan through routes in Pakistan to avenge the incursions.
On early Friday, militants fired rockets on NATO oil tankers near the southern city of Shikarpur in Sindh, destroying 27 tankers, and the police exchanged fire with the militants but the militants fled after the attack. Later, Pakistani Taliban Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack on tankers carrying oil for NATO forces in Afghanistan.
A blockade of the main land route for NATO supplies from Pakistan into Afghanistan continued Saturday as queues of trucks and tankers formed at the border crossing. Long queues of trucks and oil tankers were waiting along Torkham and in the adjacent areas for the reopening. Khyber is on the main NATO supply route through Pakistan into Afghanistan, where more than 152,000 US and NATO forces are fighting an intensifying Taliban insurgency.
While NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen will meet with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Brussels on Monday, amid a row over a NATO helicopter strike inside Pakistan. According to private TV, Qureshi will visit the transatlantic alliance’s headquarters in Brussels on the sidelines of a two-day Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). A NATO statement said today there would be no press briefing after the talks.-SANA