AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said today it was time to “move on” and repair relations with the United States and NATO, in a further sign it could reopen supply routes into Afghanistan closed for nearly six months.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar made the remarks one day before Pakistani leaders are to discuss ending the blockade on NATO supplies.
Islamabad shut its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies after US air strikes killed 24 soldiers on November 26, provoking a major crisis in Pakistani-US relations still reeling from the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
“It was important to make a point, Pakistan has made a point and we now need to move on and go into a positive zone and try to conduct our relations,” Khar said. Asked whether Pakistan would allow resumption of NATO supplies, Information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said a decision would be made in the coming days.
“There are a lot of sensitivities,” he told reporters. “How we can share things with you which are under discussion? We will share it in the next three to four days.”
On Monday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani briefed President Asif Ali Zardari, army chief of staff General Ashfaq Kayani and senior ministers after a recent visit to Britain, the second largest contributor to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The president said the talks discussed “regional security” but did not refer explicitly to NATO.
Officials have declined to say publicly when the supply route could reopen but reports suggest Pakistan and the US are on the verge of a breakthrough.
The defence committee of the cabinet is to meet on Tuesday, followed by the cabinet on Wednesday.
One of Pakistan’s major complaints is US drone strikes on Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives, to which the parliament has demanded a halt but which American officials consider a vital weapon in the war on militants.
Analysts believe Islamabad has no choice but to reopen the border when US back-payments for fighting Taliban in the northwest are needed to help boost state coffers ahead of the next budget.