Pakistan on Wednesday began allowing NATO supplies to move into Afghanistan as it lifted a seven-month blockade of vital routes to the war-torn country following a US apology over the killing of 24 of its soldiers in a cross-border raid.
Authorities at Port Qasim in Karachi, Pakistan's second busiest harbour, told the media that they had received instructions to allow the movement of NATO supplies after the payment of demurrage for the period when the goods were kept at the port.
Officials at the Chaman land border crossing in southwestern Balochistan province too told the media they had received instructions to prepare for the movement of NATO supplies to Afghanistan.
Pakistan's Defence Committee of the Cabinet decided late Tuesday night to end the blockade of the supply lines after the US apologised for a cross-border NATO air strike that had killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November last year.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ], in a telephonic conversation with her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, reiterated America's "deepest regrets" for the NATO attack on November 26 last year, which had triggered a major diplomatic rift between the two countries.
"I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again," Clinton said.
Islamabad [ Images ] had shut the supply routes after the NATO attack last year.
However the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has threatened to attack the NATO vehicles.
Amidst criticism from opposition, Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan had not concluded any "secret agreement" with the US and contended that a superpower had to "backdown".
Khar said the government had not deviated from a resolution adopted by a joint sitting of Parliament on resetting ties with the US by reopening the supply routes.
Pakistan had blocked supplies bound for foreign forces in Afghanistan for almost eight months only to have its principled stance accepted, Khar said.
A message had been given to the US that it should not cross Pakistan's "red lines", she said.
Though the NATO supply routes were reopened, a superpower had to "back down", she contended. Pakistan will continue talks with the US on ending drone attacks, Khar said.
She further said future relations between Pakistan and the US will be in line with guidelines adopted by parliament.
In April, a joint session of the two houses of parliament had approved guidelines for Pakistan's future ties with the US.
These guidelines had demanded an immediate end to US drone strikes and said that Pakistani territory should not be used for transporting arms and ammunition to foreign forces in Afghanistan.