Officials sent to Afghanistan for Nato intrusion probe

Pakistani drivers sit on a front bumper of a truck carrying supplies for NATO forces parked with other trucks at a roadside near the boarder crossing with Afghanistan in Torkhum, Some 150 trucks have been still waiting for Pakistan to reopen the border crossing in Torkham so that they can deliver their supplies to Western troops in Afghanistan. – Photo by AP

PESHAWAR: Pakistan has sent a team to Afghanistan to probe a cross-border Nato attack that killed three Pakistani soldiers, officials said on Sunday.

Pakistan has blocked the Torkham route for Nato convoys carrying supplies to Afghanistan since the helicopter attack in Kurram tribal region on Thursday, which Nato claimed was in self-defence but was condemned by Islamabad.

A two-member Pakistan team led by Brigadier Usman Khattak, deputy inspector-general of the Frontier Corps, travelled to Afghanistan on Saturday to join an investigation into the incident by the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force and US officials, an official said.

Brigadier Khattak had already visited the site of the attack and held talks with troops deployed in the area, the official said.

The border Torkham remained closed for a fourth day on Sunday.

“We will review the position when the security situation is normalised,” the official said, adding that efforts were continuing to resolve the problem through negotiations.

Queues of more than 200 trucks and oil tankers have formed at the border as they wait to deliver supplies to the 152,000 foreign troops fighting a nine-year Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials indicated on Sunday that the border crossing was a short-term measure and it would be reopened soon.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said that the route had been closed because of public reaction in the area to the Nato strikes, and that it would be reopened once things normalised.

“The supply has been suspended because of security reasons and it will be resumed as soon as these reasons are addressed,” he said.

While Nato and the United States have alternative supply routes into Afghanistan, the Pakistani ones are the cheapest and most convenient.

Most of the coalition’s non-lethal supplies are transported over Pakistani soil after being unloaded at docks in Karachi.

Our Correspondent adds from Washington: Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States said his country needed only “technical” help from Washington, not US troops on the ground.

Hussain Haqqani also told CNN’s State of the Union programme that Pakistan would reopen the Torkham supply route “relatively quickly,” probably in less than a week.

He also insisted that Pakistan would move against militants on its own schedule, not Washington’s.

“Pakistan is saying we will take care of all terrorists on the Pakistani side of the border, but we will do it on our timeline,” he said. “We cannot always follow a timeline that our allies set for us, because we are allies, not a satellite.”Ambassador Haqqani also said Pakistan couldn’t do everything Washington wanted “because sometimes we don’t have the capacity and sometimes we don’t have the means.”

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