KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistan signed a deal with the United States on Tuesday allowing NATO supply convoys to cross its territory into Afghanistan until the end of 2015, one year beyond the deadline for withdrawal of US combat forces there.
Islamabad agreed to open land routes for NATO supplies on July 3, after ordering the longest border closure in the 10-year-long war in Afghanistan. The closure was imposed to protest a botched US air raid that killed 24 Pakistani troops.
The agreement, a memorandum of understanding, was signed by US Charge D'Affaires Richard Hoagland and Additional Secretary of Defense Ministry Rear Admiral Farrokh Ahmad in Rawalpindi, Dawn reported. It will not allow the transport of arms and ammunition into Afghanistan via Pakistan, though military equipment will be allowed. The agreement also lays out security arrangements that Pakistan will provide for the thousands of container trucks and oil tankers whose routes originate at the port of Karachi.
Pakistan's federal cabinet approved a draft of the agreement, prepared according to the UN charter, last weekend. According to the Washington Post, the agreement is significant because it appears to have been reached without any overt Pakistani military involvement. US officials said that Pakistani generals stood back to allow civillian leaders to negotiate the pact, which the Washington Post reported was a "slow, politicized and unwieldy process."
According to Pakistani newspaper The News International, Hoagland hailed the MoU as a "demonstration of increased transparency and openness" between the two governments, and said that $1.1 billion owed to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund, to reimburse Pakistan for costs incurred in the war, will be released following the signing of the MoU.