Pakistani army chief assures NATO of cooperation on Afghanistan

By Xinhua,

Brussels : Pakistan’s army chief on Wednesday assured NATO of Islamabad’s cooperation with the alliance on Afghanistan.

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Pakistani army leader Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani attended a meeting of NATO chiefs of staff at NATO headquarters, the first time a Pakistani chief of defense is invited to such a meeting.

NATO Defense Committee chairman, Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola, told reporters that Gen. Kayani pledged that Pakistan will be part of the solution. Kayani himself did not talk to the press.

“A stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in the vital interest of Pakistan,” Di Paola, who chaired the meeting, quoted Kayani as saying at the meeting.

The Italian admiral said Kayani also promised to keep a line of supply through Pakistan to NATO’s troops in Afghanistan open.

NATO is leading a 50,700-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and the line of supply through Pakistan is of key importance.

“We will do whatever is possible, whatever is in our power to be sure that this line of supply is open, because we understand how critical it is to Afghanistan, how critical it is to ISAF, because we want ISAF to succeed, because we want Afghanistan to succeed,” Di Paola quoted Kayani as saying.

“We would harm ourselves — Pakistan — if we would not do our best to ensure that,” Kayani was quoted as saying.

“The line of supply throughout Pakistan today is open, is working, is reasonably safe,” Di Paola said.

Kayani made an one-hour presentation of Pakistan’s views on the Afghanistan issue, highlighting geography, culture and history as the three determinant factors in a solution to the overall problem and to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border issue, according to Di Paola.

Di Paola said these factors make it impossible to seal the border. “Flow of people across that line is part of normal life for centuries, will continue to be part of normal life for centuries,” he said. “The border per se is not sealable.”

“What can be done, and what should be done is to have the understanding of the people living there, moving across to separate themselves from the bad guys, from the terrorists,” he said.

The tribal areas on the Pakistani border with Afghanistan has recently been used by Taliban militants as bases to regroup and launch cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.