LAHORE – Pakistan may have to face economic sanctions if it continued to hold Nato supplies for an extended period of time, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has said.
“If the Nato containers are not given passage, it would be a violation of the international conventions to which Pakistan is also a signatory”, the minister told reporters at a luncheon hosted in his honour by PPP leader Munir Ahmad Khan at a local hotel on Sunday.
Mukhtar said the government was yet to formulate a policy on Nato supplies in the light of recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security; but the looming threat of international sanctions was becoming ever more evident with the passage of time.
The minister, however, did not say that Pakistan was going to re-open the Nato supply routes despite repeated questions, as he confined himself to only highlighting the implications of keeping the supplies stopped.
To a question, he said that essential goods, mainly the eatables, have been allowed to pass through Pakistan to Afghanistan after thorough search on humanitarian grounds. The defence minister said there would be no compromise on sovereignty and integrity of the country, as both armed forces and the government were on same page in this regard.
Responding to a question, the minister said that Pakistan had told the US many a time that drone attacks were counterproductive, and if they were necessary at all, they could be carried out jointly by the two countries. But the US has not budged an inch from its stance and Pakistan was helpless before the super power.
When asked if any proposal was under consideration to curtail the defence budget, he replied in the negative. About the resolution of Siachen issue, Mukhtar said he did not see any breakthrough at this point of time as India was holding strategic positions at the glacier and would try to impose its own terms. It was not possible for Pakistan to withdraw forces from Siachen unilaterally, he added. “It is (also) an ego issue. If we pull out, families of the martyrs will raise questions,” he added.
Talking about PM Gilani’s conviction, Ahmad Mukhtar said that PPP stood firm behind its prime minister, and nothing could be said until the detailed decision of Supreme Court comes out. He said after the detailed verdict is delivered and the prime minister returns from abroad, he would decide his future plan and may ask his lawyers to file a review petition.
“If Supreme Court rejects review petition and declares Gilani disqualified, he would resign immediately”, he assured. Mukhtar rejected reports that he was a candidate for the prime ministership. “Party legislators would vote for the candidate nominated by the leadership” he added.
To a question about the threat of long march by the PML-N, the minister disagreed with the supposition that Nawaz Sharif had given the call after getting any signal from the army or any other institution. “Nawaz Sharif is leading a major political party and is a mature politician, and, therefore, he cannot be expected to take decisions on anybody’s desire”, he observed.
The judiciary was not against the PPP, he said, but added in the same breadth that they (PPP) also did not expect justice from it. He also alleged Nawaz Sharif and his party had too close terms with the judiciary.
The minister said elections will be held within six to eight months and all parties would come to know of their standing. He asked Chaudhry Nisar to coordinate with PM Gilani to address the issue of appointment of new chairman of the Election Commission.
About Babar Awan, he said his future was like that of an ordinary lawyer, adding that Babar had taken certain things for granted, being unmindful of their implications.
Federal Minister for National Heritage and Integration Samina Khalid Ghurki, Adviser to PM Aslam Gill, Shaukat Basra, Navid Ch, Azizur Rehman Chan and Tahir Khalique also attended the luncheon.