Nato allowed access to air route on humanitarian basis: Mukhtar
15 February, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar on Tuesday admitted that the government had allowed Nato to use Pakistani airspace for a limited period on humanitarian grounds and to allow food items to be carried to Afghanistan which would rot if their carriage was delayed.
Talking to media persons after witnessing the agreement signing ceremony between PIA and the Boeing corporation, the minister said only those items would be allowed to be transported by air for which orders were given before November 26, 2011.
To a question, the minister said no one had information about extension in the service tenure of ISI chief Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Martial Rao Qamar Suleman adding that a decision about the extensions would be taken by the president and the prime minister.
To another question, Ahmad Mukhtar said the Pakistan Navy was fully capable of defending its territorial waters, and the purchase of a nuclear submarine by India would not have any impact on Pakistan's naval defences.
He said Pakistan and the United States were trying to improve their relations because it would be beneficial for both countries.
Acting Ambassador of the United States to Pakistan, Richard Hoagland, said on the occasion that Pakistan and the US were committed to entering a new and positive period of relations. He referred to Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's statement that when parliament finished its review of the relationship with US and made recommendations, the two countries would have a strong, more productive and more realistic relationship.
To a question about the Salala attack, Hoagland said it was a terrible incident and the US deeply regretted the loss of lives. "We want to work together to make sure that such incidents don't happen again."
To a question about the US Congressional hearing on Balochistan, Hoagland said the US fully supported the territorial integrity of Pakistan. He said the US Congress, like Pakistan's Parliament, had the right to discuss many different things and it was not necessary that President Obama's administration supported the positions stated during public hearings. He said everybody had the right to express their own opinion.
Earlier, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) signed an agreement to purchase five Boeing 777 aircraft from Boeing Company of the United States. Managing Director PIA Nadeem Khan Yousufzai and Director International Sales of Boeing Company J Miguel Santos signed the agreement while Ahmad Mukhtar and Richard Hoagland witnessed the signing ceremony.
Under the agreement, the Boeing Company will deliver five Boeing 777 aircraft by November 2015. The first aircraft will be delivered in March 2015. Ahmad Mukhtar said all out efforts are being made to improve the performance of PIA, expressing the hope that PIA would come out of the financial crisis. Mukhtar said the new aircraft purchase process was moving slowly but service would improve with new additions He said these airplanes had been purchased at lesser cost than in the past.
Boeing Company's Director International Sales said the company had been a partner of PIA for the last many years and would continue to be a good partner in the future also.