Pakistan Mulls Reopening Border Route For NATO
By Rizwan Khatik - Wed May 16, 5:37 am
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP): Pakistan’s foreign minister suggested Monday that the country should reopen its Afghan border to NATO troop supplies, saying the government had made its point by closing the route for nearly six months in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Reopening the border risks a domestic outcry in Pakistan given Washington’s refusal to apologize for the attack, which it says was an accident. But it could help ensure that Pakistan has a role in the future of Afghanistan as NATO prepares to retool its strategy there during a conference that starts Sunday in Chicago.
Pakistan’s presence would benefit the American-led coalition as well, because the country is seen as crucial to striking a peace deal with the Taliban and their allies in Afghanistan that would allow foreign troops to withdraw without the nation descending into further chaos.
The supply line running through Pakistan to Afghanistan will be critical to that withdrawal as NATO pulls out more than a decade’s worth of equipment. It has been critical for shipping in supplies as well, although the United States has reduced its reliance on Pakistan in recent years by using a more costly route through Central Asia.
The foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, said the government made the right decision to close the border to NATO to send a message to Washington that the attack on its troops in November was unacceptable.
“It was important to make a point,” Ms. Khar said at a news conference in Islamabad when asked whether she believed that Pakistan should reopen the supply route. “Pakistan has made a point, and now we can move on.”
The United States welcomed Ms. Khar’s comments, but said the two countries had yet to reach a final deal.