Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani has said his government is in no hurry to reopen
the NATO supply routes that were closed after a cross-border
air strike last year and that a decision on the issue will be
made only after evolving consensus among political parties.
Gilani made the remarks during an interaction with
reporters on board his special plane while flying back to
Pakistan from China yesterday after attending the Boao Forum
He said the Parliamentary Committee on National Security
will make a decision on the issue of reopening the supply
routes to Afghanistan.
"Let the committee, which has representation from all
political parties in parliament, decide what they want. The
government has not set a timeframe for the committee to
complete its deliberations and will wait for a final outcome,"
the premier said.
Since the reopening of the NATO supply routes is a
"national security issue", the government wants everybody on
board, Gilani said.
He expressed the hope that his government will be able to
reach a solution that will be accepted by all political
Gilani referred to his efforts to involve all parties,
including those in the opposition, in efforts to forge
consensus on the supply routes.
The premier chaired a meeting of all political parties on
March 29 that was also attended by the military top brass,
including the army and Inter-Services Intelligence chiefs.
However, an unnamed federal minister who was part of
Gilani`s delegation referred to background discussions on the
issue of reopening NATO supply and told the Dawn newspaper
that the government was "virtually caught between the devil
and the deep sea".
Though opposition parties had agreed that Pakistan could
not afford hostile posturing towards NATO countries in the
long term, they were playing politics with the issue in
public, the minister said.
On the other hand, the military authorities wanted the
government to develop consensus among political forces and
"resolve the issue on an emergency basis", he said.
"With the passage of time, the US and its allies are
getting impatient and pushing Pakistan hard for a favourable
outcome, that is, the reopening of supply routes. And they
want it without any further delay and hard conditions," the
The premier said the purpose of convening last week`s
meeting of all political parties was to make all stakeholders,
especially the opposition and the military leadership, sit
together and express their points of view.
The federal minister said it turned out to be a good
exercise because it took some pressure off the government.
Gilani`s remarks on reopening the supply routes came
against the backdrop of reports that Deputy Secretary of State
for Management and Resources Thomas Nides will visit Pakistan
this week for talks that are part of the US re-engagement with
Nides is expected to meet Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani
Khar and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh during the trip,
which comes at a critical time for bilateral ties that remain
strained due to a spate of unresolved issues.
Pakistan closed the supply routes after a cross-border
NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.
The government forced the US to vacate Shamsi airbase,
believed to be a hub for CIA-operated drones, and Gilani
ordered a parliamentary review of ties with the US.
Though the Parliamentary Committee on National Security
presented 40 recommendations for resetting Pakistan-US ties, a
joint sitting of parliament was unable to begin debating the
proposals due to reservations expressed by the opposition.
The parliamentary panel is now reviewing the proposals.