Pak refuses to reopen supply route for coalition forces

The main supply route in Pakistan for foreign troops in Afghanistan remained closed for the fifth day.

Updated: Oct 05, 2010, 00:35 AM IST

Islamabad: The main supply route in
Pakistan for foreign troops in Afghanistan remained closed for
the fifth day even as Islamabad said the border crossing
would not be reopened till public anger eases over NATO air
strikes on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan closed the Torkham border crossing in the
Khyber tribal region on Thursday after three Pakistani
soldiers were killed in an air strike by NATO helicopters.

Public anger mounted in Pakistan after NATO
helicopters carried out at least for air strikes within a
week.

Officials said over 200 tankers and container trucks
ferrying supplies to foreign forces in Afghanistan were queued
up at the Torkham border crossing, which has been closed since
Thursday.

The Khasadar militia and other security forces are
providing security to the vehicles.

The owners of the vehicles today asked the government
to settle the matter as soon as possible as their debts were
mounting.

A Pakistani military team has gone to Afghanistan to
join a probe into the air strikes by the US and NATO forces.

In a related development, Foreign Minister Shah
Mahmood Qureshi, who is visiting Brussels to participate in a
summit, told NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh-Rasmussen that
Pakistan will "only reopen a supply route for coalition troops
in Afghanistan once public anger eases and security improves".

Qureshi expressed Pakistan`s "deep concern" over
border violations and recent attacks in Pakistani territory by
NATO and ISAF forces in which three soldiers were killed and
three more injured.

Apprising the NATO Secretary General about the
"gravity of public anger" over the border incursions, Qureshi
said, Unless the reaction cools down and we make sure that
the supply line is secured, we cannot reopen it."

Qureshi said the mandate given to ISAF forces by the
UN is confined to Afghanistan and they are "advised to refrain
from any actions that constitute a violation of Pakistan’s
sovereignty."

Fogh-Rasmussen offered his regrets and described the
recent incidents as "most unfortunate".

NATO considers Pakistan an important partner and has
started a joint investigation to ensure that such incidents
are not repeated, he said.

Pakistan earlier lodged a strong protest with NATO
over the border violations and the country`s envoy in Brussels
handed over a demarche to the NATO Deputy Secretary General on
October 1.

PTI