Hagel warns Nato blockade can block aid flow


ISLAMABAD – US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel has warned the US can stop economic aid to Pakistan if it fails to keep the ground supply routes open. According to sources, the visiting US dignity sounded the warning to Pakistani leaders during a series of meetings he held with them on Monday. A press statement issued by the US Embassy said Secretary Hagel raised the issue of blockade of Nato supplies with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. But there was no mention of it in the official handout issued by the Prime Minister’s House. The US Embassy further stated Secretary Hagel also expressed the US concern over the presence of Haqqani network in Pakistan.
On the other hand, a government handout about the meeting of the US secretary of defence with the prime minister said Nawaz Sharif expressed deep concern over the continuing drone strikes by the United States in the country.
“The two leaders agreed to work together to strengthen Pakistan-US relations and advance the shared interest of a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan and the region,” a Foreign Office press release said. The prime minister stressed the importance Pakistan attached to a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan and reaffirmed its support for the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
Hagel acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts to support reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The two leaders also reviewed the current state of bilateral defence and security cooperation and explored ways of further expanding cooperation in this important area of the relationship.
The prime minister stressed the importance of establishing long-term and broad-based defence cooperation with the United States on the basis of mutual interest. The two leaders also discussed the situation in Afghanistan.
Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and Defence Secretary Lt-Gen Asif Yasin Malik also attended the meeting.
Hagel also met COAS) General Raheel Sharif at the General Headquarters and exchanged views on the issues concerning defence relations, Pak-US bilateral ties and regional stability. US Ambassador to Pakistan Richord Olson and US Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence Dr Peter Lavoy accompanied Hagel.
Hagel reviewed the mutually beneficial bilateral security relationship and reaffirmed the strong US commitment to peace and security in the region. He updated the prime minister, the defence minister and the chief of the army staff on the US and Nato efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan.
Hagel raised the importance of keeping the ground supply routes out of Afghanistan open. During his meeting with the prime minister, Hagel reviewed shared concerns regarding the activities of terrorist groups, including the Haqqani network, on Pakistani territory. He also discussed US security assistance programme to support Pakistan against the militants.