ISLAMABAD - Pakistan may be close to re-opening a critical land supply route for US military cargo heading into Afghanistan, ending a difficult dispute with Washington, reported CBS News quoting two senior Pakistani government officials.
The officials quoted recent confidential communication between key government agencies, which suggest that the country may be days or just weeks away from lifting a four-month ban on cargo trucks carrying supplies to US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan.
The two Pakistani officials who spoke to CBS News both confirmed that discussions were at an advanced stage over the financial terms surrounding future cargo trucks to be driven through Pakistan.
“The decision appears to have been made. We are going to resume supplies but probably charge a fee for the wear and tear of Pakistan’s roads and infrastructure,” a senior Pakistani Foreign Ministry official told CBS News on condition of anonymity. “The position now is not to keep the ban in place. In fact, internally within the government we are actively discussing ways to lift the ban.”
An intelligence official who also spoke to CBS News on background as he was not authorized to speak to journalists said: “Details of the number of trucks, which will go through Pakistan on any given day, and a rough estimate of their cargo are being discussed. This seems like advanced preparation for reopening of the route.”
A senior European diplomat based in Islamabad who also spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity said resumption of the supply route appeared to have the support of the influential army led by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
In the past two years, Pakistan has repeatedly complained of delays in receiving compensation under the CSF. The European diplomat said “the army now seems to think, it would be best to charge a higher tariff on the trucks rather than wait for the U. to compensate Pakistan. Pakistan probably sees this as a quicker way to earn revenue, which will also fund its war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”
Meanwhile according to BBC Urdu, Pakistani officials are hopeful the US is going to tender a formal apology for the Salala Checkpost attack.
A senior military official, privy to the developments taking place during unannounced military and diplomatic level contacts between Pakistan and the US, told BBC on condition of anonymity that Americans are now convinced that tendering an apology for the Salala attack is not an illegitimate demand.
The discussions stretching to over two-months were participated by Pakistani Foreign Minister and ambassador to US in Washington and their American counterparts, besides some senior military officials from both countries.
However, when, how and at which level the US will tender its apology or will not, depends a lot on the reaction by the Pakistani Parliament, the official said.