ISLAMABAD - The ongoing spate of tension between Pakistan and the United States over Nato supplies resumption might not see an immediate diffusion with no headway to this effect been made during a meeting between two top military commanders yesterday (Wednesday).
“No apology, no supplies,” was the military’s perspective during the said meeting as described by the officials at a classified organisation. Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) General Allen arrived in Rawalpindi on Wednesday to meet Pakistan’s Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the pretext of discussing border coordination.
The meeting, which, according to informed officials, largely discussed the deadlock over the restoration of Nato supplies as well as recurrence of cross-border incursions from Afghan side, remained inconclusive on the former issue, following reiteration from Pakistani side of demand for a formal apology from Washington over last year’s Salala incident.
According to the reported details, General Allen Wednesday landed at Chaklala Base, Rawalpindi at around 4:30pm. He proceeded to the US Embassy in Islamabad and met with the senior officials of the Office of Defence Representative to Pakistan (ODR-P) and the US Embassy’s Defence Attache Office (DAO) before meeting with General Kayani at General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.
Apart from contentious issues, the two generals also discussed the working of Border Coordination Committee (BCC) that administers the Border Coordination Centres set up across Fata and jointly monitored by Pakistan Army, Nato-led Isaf and Afghan National Army. Continuing the enhanced coordination between the Liaison Officers (LOs), Patrolling Officers (POs) and Border Coordinates (BCs) of the three sides to eliminate cross-border incursions was agreed upon. However, any progress on breaking the impasse over Nato supplies was reported to have remained stalled.
In addition, deadly skirmishes between regular Pakistan Army troops, Frontier Corps (FC) and Afghan militants were reported last week in Upper and Lower Dir. Continued from Friday to Sunday, the incursions cost Pakistan the lives of its 13 men, while 14 alleged miscreants were also killed in the fighting.
Gen Allen, officials said, informed Gen Kayani of having launched an investigation into the Dir skirmishes, to be probed by Isaf’s internal intelligence. Besides, the Isaf commander is said to have formally assured his Pakistani counterpart that military offensive against miscreants in Kunar and Nuristan province would be scaled up with relevant updates to be shared with Pakistan regularly.
Last month when reports of resumption of Nato supplies ahead of Chicago summit had surfaced, The Nation had reported that Pakistan and Western military commanders had failed to make headway on crucial contentious issues, particularly the resumption of Nato supplies. This was printed on May 13 in the story “Generals fail to untie key knots at tripartite forum.” The Isaf delegation headed by General John Allen and accompanied by its Afghan military counterparts had arrived in Pakistan on May 12 in connection with Tripartite Commission meeting but had mainly discussed restoring Nato supplies. Purportedly, the Western commanders had ‘warned’ Islamabad then to face ‘other set of options’ in case Nato supplies were not resumed.
Earlier in February, the commanders from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Western military alliance had met in Torkham to discuss border coordination. General Kayani had not attended the meeting while Director General Military Operations (MO) Major General Ishfaq Nadeem had led Pakistani delegation.
Pakistan’s military is said to have conveyed its acceptance to an apology from Nato if Washington was not willing to tender one. Both the sides looked to have been nearing a settlement till last week before the US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta ruled out the possibility of apologising over Salala attack in an interview with Reuters. Credible defence quarters in Islamabad were unanimous in contending that the US apology was forthcoming.
In an informal interaction with journalists some days back, Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production Chairman Mushahid Hussain Sayed believed Washington was left with no option but to offer an apology over Salala episode. “Apology is the only issue that matters now. Other issues are settled,” he had said, hoping that the US would tender one soon.