ISLAMABAD – Pakistan looked set to reopen Nato supplies as Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Monday it was time to ‘move on’.

She spoke to press conference after top civil and military leadership of the country held a crucial meeting to discuss troubled relations with the US ahead of a key Nato summit in Chicago on future of Afghanistan.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani jointly chaired the meeting at President House that was also attended by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI DG Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam, besides the federal ministers and secretaries.

They discussed regional security situation and reviewed Pakistan’s relations with the US and Nato in the light of recommendations framed by a joint sitting of parliament for resetting the ties, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

An official hand out issued by the Presidential spokesperson did not give sufficient details of this Aiwan-e-Sadr meeting, but understandably it was held to finalise and unofficially condone the understandings reached at the generals and diplomats’ parleys held on Sunday.

Well-placed sources told The Nation that the high-level meeting deliberated on a ‘work plan’ and related issues including the talks underway with the United States on reopening of Nato’s ground communications and country’s participation in the Chicago Conference.

Sources aware of movements on this front informed The Nation that both military and political leadership have in principle agreed to restore Nato supply routes but announcement of this decision could take some days owing to the mounting public outrage against the US, primarily due to drone attacks inside Pakistan.

On Sunday, Pakistan and US used the Trilateral Commission forum – primarily meant for managing Pak-Afghan border and coordinating efforts against the militants – to discuss their bilateral and regional issues, particularly the resumption of Nato supplies.

Apart from talks between the Gen Kiyani and Isaf Commander Gen John Allen, US technical teams remained busy in talks with their Pakistani counterparts to work out the nitty-gritty of the potential deal Pakistan and Nato are struggling to conclude. Pakistan‘s ambassador Sherry Rehman was also busy with senior officials of the US State Department to achieve some grounds to move forward.

At the President House, Prime Minister Gilani gave a briefing on his discussions with British officials about the state of relations with the US and Nato, sources said. Gilani, who eearlier the same day held a separate meeting with the president, also told the meeting participants about the assurances he had secured from the British government in facilitating Pakistan’s efforts in rebuilding relations with the US as well as Nato.

Britain is the second largest contributor to the Nato mission in Afghanistan and is also the prime facilitator in backdoor diplomacy on the issue of Pakistan’s ties with US and western military alliance.

Gen Kayani reportedly briefed the meeting on his talks with Gen John Allen while Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar gave an update about ongoing talks of technical groups of the two countries as well as talks of Ambassador Sherry Rehman with the officials of State Department.

Some sources in the government suggested that Pakistan had achieved the desired targets following the Nato supply suspension and now the government had secured some concrete assurances from United States and Isaf that Salala-like incidents would not take place in future.

As per the conditions agreed with the US and Nato, strict inspection of Nato containers would be made mandatory both at entry and exit points in Pakistan while the levy on the Nato containers would be enhanced to a considerable level. It would also be made mandatory that Nato would also pay considerable sum in the head of roads repair to be used by the Nato containers.

Some sources said, the President House meeting left the crucial decision of reopening of Nato supplies to the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) which would meet today (Tuesday) to discuss overall revisit of relations with US and resumption of Nato supply routes in the light of the parliamentary recommendations.

Some other sources said that no formal announcement on Nato supplies is expected after the DCC meeting due to the public pressure and the United States would likely come up with some concrete steps to pacify the public sentiment and face-saving to Pakistani authorities. However, another source privy to talks told The Nation, “A decision on reopening of Nato supplies will be taken within a week.”

Sources in the government said the DCC would also take into consideration the public sentiments against the resumption of Nato supplies and devise ways and means to dilute the simmering pressure against the move.

During an interaction with reporters on the sidelines of an official function on Monday, Gilani said Pakistan wants to settle all issues with the US and Nato ‘once and for all’. He however repeated his government’s line that issue of reopening Nato supply routes will be resolved in the light of parliamentary recommendations.

But the prime minister maintained the Nato supplies issue was a matter of relations with not just one country but 48 countries, adding that Pakistan seeks better ties with the entire world including neighbouring countries.

This clearly indicated his government’s craving for normalising things so the much-needed US funds could flow in before his cash-starved administration presents annul budget ahead of the general elections.

Pak Army, which heavily relies on American weaponry and military machines, and is caught in an unending fight with the militants, too would want to restore US ties as soon as possible.

The strongest sign yet that Pakistan was ready to reopen Nato supply routes however came from Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar who said it was time to ‘move on’ and repair relations with the United States and Nato.

“It was important to make a point, Pakistan has made a point and we now need to move on and go into a positive zone and try to conduct our relations,” Hina told a news conference on Monday after the Big Three’s meeting at President House. “We are trying to put this relationship, you know, in a positive zone and I am quite sure that we will be successful in doing so.”

Pakistani and US officials spent the weekend locked in talks on reaching an understanding to govern fees, logistics and other obligations should trucks again carry Nato supplies through Pakistan. The supply line negotiating team arrived in the country with US special envoy Marc Grossman, who visited in April, and stayed on after he left, officials said.

Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership will hold two more important meetings this week. The Defence Committee of the Cabinet, the highest decision-making body on security issues will meet today (Tuesday) while a meeting of the federal cabinet will be chaired by Gilani tomorrow.

Pakistan’s parliament has demanded an end to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil, but American officials consider the attacks a vital weapon in the war on al-Qaeda. Islamabad reiterated Monday that it would still like an apology for the November air strikes with the foreign minister saying it was “on the table”.

Information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira was reported as saying a decision on Nato supplies would be made within days. “There are a lot of sensitivities,” he told reporters. “How we can share things with you that are under discussion? We will share it in the next three to four days.”