ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has resumed partial NATO supplies after over two-month deadlock following Mohmand Agency row with the US, reportedly after the two countries reached an agreement that envisages full-scale resumption of the Western alliance shipments earlier next month.

According to this reported agreement, Pakistan would resume ‘regular’ NATO supplies in the first week of March while the US would not offer an official apology.

Instead, vibes would be ‘leaked’ to media suggesting an off-the-record apology being tendered by the US authorities in Islamabad or Washington.

It is also learnt that the rules of military engagement with the US have been finalised following intense deliberations between Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman and between Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar and US Embassy officials here but Pakistan’s Parliament has been kept out of the loop.

Talking to The Nation after a related media briefing, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar on Tuesday seemingly ‘dodged’ this scribes queries on resumption of ground NATO supplies. He, however, confirmed earlier in the Press briefing that NATO aerial supplies were resumed for transportation of humanitarian stuff and edible food items for the allied soldiers in Afghanistan. The supplies have been resumed on ‘humanitarian grounds’, he said.

We have allowed them air corridor for carrying partial items like food stuff, he added.

Asked if any decision on ‘humanitarian’ grounds was taken as well to restore partial NATO supplies via land route from Pakistan, he said, ‘Well there isn’t much difference. It doesn’t matter if the humanitarian supplies reach there by air or by road. What’s the difference?’.

Earlier, addressing a joint Press conference with the US Charge d’Affaires Richard Hoagland, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said that Pakistan had allowed NATO supplies containing food items through aerial route from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

He had urged NATO not to order any fresh humanitarian consignments and transport the existing stockpiles.

Richard Hoagland had termed the NATO gunship choppers attack on Pakistani pickets in Mohmand Agency as ‘deeply regrettable’ incident.

On a media query whether the US would apologise for the November 26th attack, the US diplomat did not offer a vivid response saying that the situation would be clear in next few days.

Last week, the US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter had said that NATO was using Pakistan’s air corridor for carrying its logistical equipment to Afghanistan but the ground supplies were blocked.

However, the Interior Minister Rehman Malik refuted the US envoy’s statement saying that NATO supplies via ground and air were completely blocked.

When asked to comment on this, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhkar said: ‘There must be some misunderstanding’.

On the other hand, informed officials confirm that Pakistan had never blocked air corridor passage to the NATO. Despite that the aerial supplies remained intact from the very first day after Salala attack, the officials believe, the Defence Minister’s statement on ‘resumption’ of aerial supplies on the pretext of ‘humanitarian grounds’ gave a clear indication that modalities between Pakistan and the US political leadership and military command were done with. Reportedly, Pakistan’s military establishment and government want the supplies to remain blocked till February 26th or three months after Salala attack to somehow avoid expected criticism and reaction from the Pakistani society.

Of late, the establishment is reported to have braced for tackling the post-NATO supplies resumption scenario.

The Defence of Pakistan Council, a group of the establishment sponsored clerics, religious parties and banned outfits has started ‘agitating’ against the possible resumption of NATO shipments but the ‘warning shots’ they have fired thus far aim at targeting the government alone and bailing out the military.

The strategy evidently entails passing the buck on government to bear the brunt of NATO supplies resumption.

The expected full-scale resumption of NATO supplies without taking into confidence the Parliament, political parties and public at large is not likely to go down well with the Pakistani society.

Just a day earlier, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had said in Jacobabad that the decision on NATO supplies restoration rested with the Parliament.

The Parliament is yet to take up the issue and Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) has not endorsed the decision to resume NATO supplies The military’s otherwise ‘upfront’ and government’s already dwindling images might receive setbacks given that Pakistan’s military, political and diplomatic leaderships had extensively propagated the much-hyped renewal of ‘terms of engagement with the US’ but no details to this effect have thus far shared publicly.

In the event of US refusal to offer an apology, the Pakistan’s power centres would be left with fewer options for face saving.