Pak to move fast on ending NATO blockade

Islamabad: Paving the way for ending nearly six-month blockade of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan, the Pakistan government has directed officials to finalise an agreement "as soon as possible" with the US.

"All institutions have been asked to complete the negotiations as soon as possible. We will move forward through negotiations on the basis of the resolution (adopted by a joint session of parliament for resetting the relationship with the US and NATO)," Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said.

Following a meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that discussed ties with the US and the reopening of the supply routes last evening, Kaira told a news conference the government had not set any deadline for concluding negotiations with the American administration.

"The executive authority and all stakeholders will decide the issue. National honour and national interests will be kept in mind while making a decision," he said. The cabinet also endorsed President Asif Ali Zardari`s participation in a crucial NATO Summit in Chicago next week, he said.

"No conditions have been attached to the invitation for the President to participate in the NATO Summit," Kaira said in response to a question.

The civil government or the security establishment have not made any assurances to NATO, he added. The NATO Summit to be held during May 20-21 will focus on the endgame in war-torn Afghanistan.

"World powers may get upset but we will not accept any pressure," Kaira said, referring to Pakistan`s decision to forge ahead with energy projects with Iran despite opposition from the West.