NATO supply reopened in best national interest: Raja
* PM says prolonged deadlock over NATO supply issue could have hurt Pakistan’s ties with NATO countries
* Pakistan wants to facilitate withdrawal of NATO forces
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Thursday defended the decision to reopen the Ground Lines of Communications (GLOCs), which allowed NATO supplies through Pakistani territory, saying it was taken in the best national interest and in the light of the recommendations of parliament.
The prime minister expressed these views while talking to Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who called on him at the Prime Minister’s House. The PML-Q leaders had supported the government’s decision to reopen NATO supplies.
Raja said, “As the withdrawal of the NATO and ISAF forces gets underway, Pakistan wants to facilitate the process in the interest of regional peace and stability.” He said that peace and stability in Afghanistan was closely linked to peace and stability in Pakistan.
The prime minister said that Pakistan was a partner of the international community and playing its leading role against forces of terrorism as a frontline state.
He said that prolonged deadlock over the issue of NATO supplies could have hurt the country’s relations with the NATO countries, which included friendly countries as well as brotherly Muslim countries such as Turkey, Qatar and UAE.
Raja referred to passage of legislation from the European parliament, which would enhance market access for the Pakistani exports from 2014 onwards under the Generalised System of Preference (Plus), which, he said, would not have been possible without the active support of some of the EU countries who are part of NATO. He said that it was for the first time in the country’s history that a bipartisan parliamentary consensus had been evolved on the broad contours of foreign policy.
Raja said that Pakistan made it clear that its red-lines should be respected and added in the same context that the new terms of engagement as approved by parliament were visibly heeded to by the US and NATO countries.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain supported the government’s decision to reopen NATO supplies, adding that no country could afford international diplomatic isolation.
He said that the presence of US, NATO, ISAF forces in Afghanistan represented about 50 countries of the world under the UN mandate, including brotherly Islamic countries such as Turkey. The PML-Q leader said that the diplomatic impasse over the issue could have created problems for Pakistan at the UN.