ISLAMABAD - Ostensibly sticking to the contours drawn by the parliamentary committee for revisiting country’s relations with the US and opening up of Nato ground routes through Pakistan, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet left the matter to concerned authorities from both sides to conclude the ongoing negotiations on new terms and conditions.

The Defence Committee of the Cabinet met here Tuesday with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in chair. The meeting was attended by ministers for defence, interior, foreign affairs, information and broadcasting, chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, DG ISI and three services chiefs.

Sources aware of the deliberations informed TheNation that technically the government had given green signal for reopening of Nato supply routes but avoided to issue a formal statement in this regard owing to the mounting public anger against the opening of these supplies and the matter was left for the technical groups from both sides to workout modalities for the full-fledged resumption of Nato supplies.

Sources in the committee said it was unanimously decided in the meeting that weapons transportation through Nato supplies would not be allowed in adherence to the recommendations of the parliamentary committee’s recommendations, but the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from Afghanistan via Pakistan would be allowed, as the US wanted to takeout heavy weapons from Afghanistan via Pakistan as part of its withdrawal plan.

Sources in the government said for the past two weeks the technical experts from Nato and US were busy working with the people here at ministries of foreign affairs, finance and defence to workout modalities for the ground supply resumption.

These sources further said that by keeping the matter under cover the government would buy some more time to dilute the public outrage and sudden outburst against the government for supply resumption.

Sources in ministry of defence said Pakistan had secured solid guarantees from Isaf and Nato that Salala-like incidents would not occur again in future and that before the full-fledged opening of the Nato supplies the US would come up with some mitigating measures to appease public sentiments in Pakistan by tendering a mild apology for Salala incident through Isaf commanders. The US could also announce compensation for casualties in Nov 26 incident.

The technical groups were yet to reach at some conclusion on the unabated drone attacks inside Pakistani territory as Pakistan wanted immediate halt to these attacks. It is expected the US would bring some laxity to its policy in this connection as confidence building measure to give boost to the fast-deteriorating relations with Pakistan. Sources in the government said that the tax levy on the Nato containers and its inspection at entry and exit points were almost agreed between the two sides while the Nato had also agreed to provide sizeable amount for the repair of road damage and the security arrangements to be provided to the Nato containers throughout their movement within Pakistan’s territorial limits.

Sources said initially the reopening of the Nato supplies would be made for the containers blocked at various places in the country as the same would be causing massive loss to the country in shape of freight charges to the country.

Meanwhile, according to the press release issued by the PM’s Secretariat the committee reviewed Pakistan’s cooperation in the context of international community’s security and stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan.

In keeping with the letter and spirit of the parliamentary committee’s recommendations, the DCC authorised officers of relevant ministries/departments to conclude the ongoing negotiations on the new terms and conditions.

It was also decided that the military authorities should negotiate fresh border ground rules with Nato/Isaf to ensure that Salala-like incidents would not reoccur.

The DCC welcomed the unconditional invitation by the Nato Secretary General to the President to attend Nato summit in Chicago. The DCC fully endorsed the visit of the president for the summit.

The committee further decided that the ministry of foreign affairs would continue to remain engaged with the US on other parliamentary recommendations, including apology and cessation of drone attacks.

The committee also discussed the parliament’s call for expulsion of foreign fighters, if found, on the Pakistani side.

Agencies add: Pakistani and US officials have reached a ‘broad agreement’ on logistics for the fuel and other non-military supplies that would go overland through Pakistan to Afghanistan, one source said.

Pakistan previously negotiated a fee of $160 per 40-foot container and is now looking to secure anywhere from $320 to $500, although the figure has yet to be agreed, one source said.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told AFP that “No final decision had been taken”.

An official statement said the committee was considering imposing a pre-condition “to the effect that only non-lethal cargo would be allowed to transit through Pakistan to Afghanistan”.

The United States has also guaranteed payment of at least $1.1 billion should the borders reopen, as compensation for fighting militants, one source told AFP.

Mir Mohammad Yousuf Shahwani, chairman of the All Pakistan Oil Tanker Owners Association, told AFP he had been informed by a senior official in the petroleum ministry that Pakistan would reopen the supply line within days.