ISLAMABAD, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan's decision to reopen the supply routes for NATO forces into Afghanistan has eased tension with the United States but the political opposition here has raised questions on why the deal has been done in secret and why no details of the terms and conditions were revealed to the public.
Pakistan had closed the supply lines from Pakistan to Afghanistan for NATO forces in November last year to protest against the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in U.S. drone attacks in the country's border posts.
A powerful forum of the country's top civilian and military leaders on Tuesday announced to unblock the NATO supply line after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said 'sorry' for the killing of Pakistani soldiers.
Pakistan had been demanding a public U.S. apology over the deaths of the soldiers and after Washington formally accepted the demand, Islamabad responded positively, ending the months-long stand-off.
The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), along with other opposition parties, including Islamic groups, had criticized the decision of reopening the routes announced earlier by the Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DCC).
Opposition leaders said that the DCC decision could result in the further involvement of Pakistan in the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf refused to squarely answer criticisms except in saying that the continued closure of NATO supply lines not only impinged on Pakistan's relationship with the U.S. but also on the country's relations with the 49 other member states of NATO.
In April, the Pakistani parliament approved a 14-point guideline for Pakistan's future relationship with the U.S. that includes a call for "an immediate cessation of drone attacks inside Pakistan."
The issue of drone strikes, however, was not mentioned in the official statement about the restoration of NATO supply lines.
Pakistani officials have insisted that the U.S. has accepted the major demand of apology and has in fact apologized for the deaths of Pakistani soldiers, but many in Pakistan pointed out that Clinton only used the word "sorry" and did not directly apologize for the incidents.
This lapse has also been noticed by some members of the American media, the opposition said.
Pakistan's decision not to impose any transit fee on NATO trucks has also been heavily criticized since government officials had earlier complained that NATO vehicles had badly damaged the infrastructure across the country and said that they would ask for compensation by imposing stiff transit fees.
Pakistan Communication Minister Arbab Alamgir has said on several occasions that Pakistani roads suffered losses of nearly 1 billion rupees due to the passage of heavy NATO containers and trucks.
But Pakistanis were surprised when Information Minister Qamar- uz-Zaman Kaira said that Pakistan will not claim any charges on the NATO trucks when the route is reopened.
According to Kaira, Pakistan has decided to forego the levying of taxes on NATO vehicles passing the route to help stabilize the situation in Afghanistan.
This was contrary to an earlier announcement from the parliament that it would not object to the reopening of the supply lines as long as the U.S. and NATO forces pay higher fees.
The parliament had also called for the prosecution of all those involved in the border posts attacks. But so far there has been no explanation why there were no charges filed before the government allowed NATO forces to use the supply route again, and this time even for free.
ISLAMABAD, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The first container, carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, on Thursday crossed the Pakistan-Afghanistan border three days after Pakistan unblocked the supply line, officials said.
The container entered Afghanistan via Chaman, a border city in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province, after custom clearance, border official Fazal Bari said. Full story
ISLAMABAD, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan on Tuesday night announced that it is reopening land routes for NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan after U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, apologized over the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in last November airstrike, the country's Information Minister, Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira said.
The decision was taken at a meeting of top civilian and military leaders after series of talks between the American and Pakistani officials, the Information Minister told reporters after the meeting. Full story