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NatoLOCK unlocked, at last?
 
 
 

ISLAMABAD - For second time in less than a week, Isaf Commander John Allen landed in Pakistan to help break impasse on restoration of Nato supplies, and sources said the two sides had finally reached at an agreement.Sources informed The Nation that Gen Allen landed at the Chaklala Airbase and drove straight to General Headquarters (GHQs) in Rawalpindi where he had a brief meeting with Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and then he moved to US Embassy in Islamabad.Later at night, the commander of International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), along with Deputy Secretary of State Thomas R Nides and US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, held a meeting with Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, Federal Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Army Chief Gen Kayani.In that meeting at Ms Hina’s residence in Minister’s Enclave, the two sides took to finalising the nitty-gritty of a proposed agreement for reopening of the Nato supplies and other contentious matters between the two states, sources said. They said a breakthrough was almost achieved as nearly all the contentious issues were properly addressed to the mutual acceptance of both the sides.They said, as per the agreement, the US would come up with something near apology on Salala checkpost attack, which had resulted in the martyrdom of 24 Pakistan Army personnel. Also, the US would announce immediate release of payments under CSF (coalition support fund), placed under bar after the standoff following Salala episode in November last.The issue of charges to be paid by Nato to Pakistan for using country’s communication infrastructure was also settled downward from what Pakistan had demanded –$5000 per container – to around $1000. These sources said the US has given assurance to Pakistan that it would compensate the country in some other way, for instance, assistance for social sector development.The greatest irritant was the matter of apology as Pakistan wanted an unconditional apology while the US was reluctant to do so, saying it had already deeply regretted the incident and assured that such incidents would not recur.Sources said the previous visit of Gen Allen saw a kind of breakthrough when he met with Gen Kayani and now after taking feedback and permission from his bosses in Washington he returned with their response.Sources said that relations between the two countries hit snag when a month or so ago the US had recalled its technical staff engaged in drafting and finalising mutually acceptable terms for restoration of Nato supply routes.But as the agreement seemed around the corner, the ever-hostile US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta too softened his tone and told the media in Washington the other day that both the countries were making serious and sincere efforts to resolve all the contentious issues.Also on Sunday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on telephone and congratulated him on assuming his charge. Hillary pointed out that Pakistan and US are allies in the war against terror and hoped that the bilateral relations would improve during new PM’s tenure.Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf informed Hillary that Pakistan was determined to rooting out terrorism and would continue to play its due role in the international pursuit of weeding out this menace. He also thanked the secretary of state for congratulating him.Earlier in the day on Sunday, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar briefed the prime minister on the development in the talks with the US. They also discussed overall political situation in the country, sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting informed.The first visit of the new PM after assuming his charge to neighbouring Afghanistan was also discussed at length and it was decided that the premier would take up the matter of cross-border incursions with President Karazi.Sources said the PM stressed the need to maintain good relations with the US and vowed that Pakistan, being the frontline state in the war against terror, would continue to play its due role to crush non-state actors which were out to create unrest.

 
 
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