US, Pakistan to Sign Memorandum of Understanding on NATO Supply Routes

Posted July 15th, 2012 at 8:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of supporters of Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami party marched to the southern port city of Karachi Sunday to protest the reopening of a NATO supply route to Afghanistan. The southern port receives the supplies that continue on to Afghanistan.

Protesters chanted anti-American slogans and carried banners with messages denouncing the reopening of the supply route after seven months of closure.

Party chief Syed Munawar Hasan said the war on terror is an American, not a Pakistani, war.

“To begin with, we think the war on terror is not our war. It's a war of the Americans. They want to have… to subjugate the people of this region to America. So, as a matter of fact, we should come out of the war on terror. The war on terror has generated missing people. It is a footnote of war on terror that there are military operations, and of course the drone attacks are also the offshoot and the footnote of the war on terror. Pakistan and America should revise their relationship, and Pakistan should revisit its foreign policy, and our policy should be an independent foreign policy, and that means we should look after our own priorities and not the American priorities.”

Islamabad earlier this month reopened the NATO supply line after Washington apologized for the accidental killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a November airstrike on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

The United States and Pakistan are set to sign a document formalizing the passage of NATO supplies for Afghanistan through Pakistan's territory.

A spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Office, Moazzam Ahmed Khan, told VOA Sunday that the United States and Pakistan have almost completed their technical-level discussions, and that each side is now engaged in its internal processes. A date for signing the memorandum of understanding has not been set.

Khan said discussions with Pakistan's political parties and other stakeholders are part of the procedure the government has to implement before the memorandum is signed.

Some nationalist and conservative groups in Pakistan oppose the government's decision to reopen the supply routes for NATO trucks and containers. The spokesman said Pakistan is a democratic country and every party has a right to express its views.

Last week, Khan said the NATO supply route was closed to protect the country's sovereignty and integrity. He said the reopening of the route is not aimed at getting more money from NATO.