Pakistan, US sign NATO supply MoU
Posted on 10 months ago
ISLAMABAD: A day before an important meeting between Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General (DG) Lt-General Zaheerul Islam and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Chief General David Petraeus in Washington, Pakistan and the United States on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Rawalpindi, a garrison city that also housed the army headquarters, to facilitate transportation of NATO cargo to and from Afghanistan.
This is the first written agreement between the two countries in line with the United Nations (UN) charter. The MoU was signed by US Charge d'Affaires Richard Hoagland and Additional Secretary of Defence Rear Admiral Farrokh Ahmad. The Federal Cabinet had last week approved the draft of the MoU which would be effective till December 31, 2015. The MoU can be extended for one more year after consultations between the two sides and both countries will also have to inform each other in writing if they want to discontinue the agreement.
Under this MoU, non-lethal items, including food, medicines, equipment, and materials designed for free of charge distribution among the population of Afghanistan, daily activity support items for US military, civilian and other personnel embedded with the US forces and military equipment, vehicles and other military property including those designated for US military will be allowed to pass through Pakistan.
The prohibited items, including arms and ammunition, hazardous and dangerous materials, as defined under the laws, rules and regulations of Pakistan, will not be allowed to be transported to Afghanistan, with the exception of military equipment intended for capacity building of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Transport of non-lethal cargo will be allowed in containers measuring 20x40 feet.
Two routes will be used by containers carrying NATO supplies. The containers on the southern route will travel to Afghanistan from Karachi (Bin Qasim Port) via Chaman. On the northern route, the containers will travel from Karachi (Bin Qasim Port) via Torkham to Afghanistan.
According to the agreement, no warehouses or storage facilities will be provided for American goods and no new no objection certificates (NOCs) will be required for the transit. Pakistan will also be allowed to stop the transit of goods which fall outside the parameters of the MoU.
It says that Pakistan will also provide facilities for the security and quick transfer of the cargo and will keep the US government informed about the monitoring and transit points of the cargo. The containers travelling to Afghanistan will be bound to return via Pakistan.
While no tax or duty will be charged on the containers, the commercial carriers will have to pay new fees which can also be introduced for the quick transfer of cargo. Pakistan's Defence Ministry will act as a Central Coordination Authority and review the daily operations and implementation of the supply route.
The MoU says that officials from both countries will meet once every two months to evaluate its implementation to clear any misunderstanding through mutual understanding and not through a third party. However, the MOU makes it clear that commercial carriers will be responsible for any damage to the goods.
"We are pleased to announce the conclusion and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Pakistan and the United States for the transit of cargo to and from Afghanistan through Pakistan. This MoU is a demonstration of increased transparency and openness between our governments, in respect of Pakistan's sovereignty as requested by the Pakistani Parliament," a US embassy statement said.
The statement said the signing of the MoU underscored the shared commitment to support Afghanistan and regional stability. "We are committed to working together with Pakistan toward these goals on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect. Our countries should have a relationship that is enduring, strategic, and carefully defined, and that enhances the security and prosperity of both our nations and the region," it added.
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