NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Pakistani officials Nov. 4 to keep supply lines open. His comments came the same day a Pakistani opposition party voted to block the transit routes commonly used by NATO and the US to bring equipment into and out of Afghanistan. “I feel confident that the Pakistani authorities will maintain open supply routes and transit routes because it is in Pakistan’s own interest to contribute positively to stability and security in the region,” said Rasmussen during a Nov. 4 press briefing. The Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which rules the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, threatened to close the routes by Nov. 20 if remotely piloted aircraft strikes in neighboring tribal areas do not stop, reported United Press International. The PTI resolution comes after a US drone killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistan Taliban, last week. Rasmussen declined to comment on specific reports of such a strike, but he did emphasize the fact that the security of Pakistan and Afghanistan is linked. “There can’t be security in one country without security in the other,” noted Rasmussen. Pakistan closed these same routes in November 2011 after a cross-border incident with Pakistani forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.