Gilani: Blockade of NATO Convoys Likely to Last Weeks

Posted December 12th, 2011 at 9:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says his country likely will continue to block NATO convoys into Afghanistan for several more weeks.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr. Gilani also did not rule out closing Pakistan's airspace to the United States.

The supply routes were shut down following a November 26 NATO airstrike in Pakistan that killed 24 Pakistani troops.

Prime Minister Gilani said there is a “credibility gap” between the U.S. and Pakistan. He said the two countries have to improve their relationship and have “more confidence in each other.”

The prime minister also denied claims that the government is engaged in peace talks with homegrown Taliban, but added that anyone who denounces violence is “acceptable to us.”

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government may consider the option of engaging in peace talks with militants, provided “they come down from their bases in the hills, denounce violence and abandon their weapons according to the tribal customs.”

Malik said the Pakistani military has sufficiently weakened the Islamist group, and Islamabad is determined to continue with its anti-militancy campaign. But the military said fleeing insurgents have found sanctuaries in neighboring Afghanistan, where their Afghan supporters are helping them to regroup and launch deadly attacks back home.

Late Sunday, gunmen attacked NATO oil tankers in southwest Pakistan, killing one person and setting seven tankers ablaze.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.