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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Not delaying NATO trucks, Pakistan tells US as opposition protests grow

NATO Troops in Afghanistan

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ISLAMABAD - Days after Pakistan reopened the crucial supply route for NATO trucks, opposition parties took to the streets to protest against the resumption of the supply lines to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has assured the US that any delays in trucks delivering supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan were not being caused by his government.

Islamabad agreed to reopen the routes after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in an airstrike last November, which had brought their ties to a new low.

Though the route was reopened July 3, only a few trucks, under heavy security, crossed into Afghanistan from Chaman in Pakistan's Balochistan province last week.

The Pakistani Taliban has threatened to attack NATO trucks and kill drivers if they resume trips to Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the Islamist organisation threatened more attacks.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter asked Prime Minister Ashraf about the delays during a meeting on Wednesday, according to Akram Shaheedi, the prime minister's spokesman.

"The government has given all kind of clearances for the release of NATO supplies," Shaheedi said.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party is among those protesting the reopening of the NATO supply route. PTI is planning to hold a protest rally on Sunday in Peshawar, the capital city of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), an alliance of right-wing parties, earlier this week held a "long march" against reopening of the supply route in Punjab province.

In Karachi, many truck owners are still waiting for compensation from NATO subcontractors for being out of work for seven months.

"We are too wary, too anxious and too cautious about the situation. It was dangerous to go overland before the government ban, but now the dangers have increased," Akram Khan Durrani, president of the All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association, said, according to AFP.

The supply route through Pakistani is shorter than the one NATO was using since November passing through Russia and other nations and avoiding Pakistan altogether. It cost the United States $100 million a month to use the alternative northern route.


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