The United States and Pakistan signed on Tuesday a deal formalizing an agreement on NATO supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistani territory, U.S. media reported.
In line with the deal, signed in a ceremony at Rawalpindi, Pakistan will allow Afghanistan-bound NATO convoys to cross its territory until the end of 2015, one year beyond the deadline for allied troops pullout from Afghanistan, the New York Times said.
The deal also allows both sides to extend the deal in one-year intervals beyond December 31, 2015, the report said. The deal will apply to other NATO nations if they sign separate pacts with Islamabad.
The so-called “memorandum of understanding” codified a longstanding informal agreement on NATO transit through Pakistan struck with the government of former President Pervez Musharraf in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that preceded the launch of the U.S. anti-Taliban operation in Afghanistan.
Pakistan closed the NATO supply routes in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at the border with Afghanistan last November. Pakistan demanded an official apology from Washington in order to reopen the routes.
Islamabad agreed to resume the transit after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this month that the United States was “sorry” for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military and “acknowledged the mistakes” that resulted in the soldiers’ deaths.
Last week, however, Pakistan once against shut down the routes following an attack on a NATO truck blamed on the Pakistani Taliban. The New York Times quoted Pakistani officials as saying on Tuesday that supplies would resume only after the transit routes are duly protected.
In line with Tuesday’s agreement, Pakistani police would ensure security of NATO trucks until they reach the restive tribal belt at the border with Afghanistan, where the paramilitary Frontier Corps would take over, the report said.