News / Asia

NATO Military Supplies Roll Again Through Pakistan

Afghanistan Supply Routes
Afghanistan Supply Routes
TEXT SIZE - +
WASHINGTON – NATO military supplies are rolling once again through Pakistan to help the alliance fight the Taliban in Afghanistan, saving an estimated $100 million a month over alternative supply routes. There are questions, however, whether this will lead to better relations between Washington and Islamabad, which had closed down the supply route for seven months after NATO planes accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
 
The so-called southern route, which runs through Pakistan, is the most direct and cost effective way to send supplies to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
 
Seth Jones, an expert on Afghanistan with the RAND Corporation, said the southern route is essentially made up of several roads.
 
“One of the key ones is fuel and other materiel that comes through the port of Karachi, and then comes up various routes, some of it through Quetta and Chaman and across the Afghan border into Kandahar Province,” Jones said. “Others go through Peshawar and up through the Khyber Pass into eastern Afghanistan around Jalalabad and then into Kabul,” he added.
 
Dangerous route
 
But Stephen Blank, a national security affairs expert at the U.S. Army War College, said the southern route is dangerous.
 
“The topography is one of the roughest in the world.  Basically it’s a single road in many places,” said Blank. “So you are so vulnerable to attacks. It’s a dangerous road.”
 
Jones said areas “around the [Pakistani] Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the route that goes through the Khyber Pass is controlled by militias.” As an example, he cites Manghal Bagh, leader of the Lashkar-e-Islam militia group that controls that part of the road.
 
“The United States has to pay off and the truckers have to pay off some of these militias to get items through their territory,” Jones said. “So it is always susceptible to targeting by a range of militias and insurgent groups, both on the Pakistan side as well as the Afghan side of the border.”
 
Pakistani demands
 
Pakistan recently re-opened the southern route after having closed it down for seven months after a U.S.-led coalition air strike that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier.
 
Border guards check trucks en-route to neighboring Afghanistan in Pakistan's tribal area of Khyber, July 4, 2012.Border guards check trucks en-route to neighboring Afghanistan in Pakistan's tribal area of Khyber, July 4, 2012.
x
Border guards check trucks en-route to neighboring Afghanistan in Pakistan's tribal area of Khyber, July 4, 2012.
Border guards check trucks en-route to neighboring Afghanistan in Pakistan's tribal area of Khyber, July 4, 2012.
Pakistani officials wanted an apology from President Barack Obama, but finally settled for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telling the Pakistani foreign minister, Hina Rabani Khar: “We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military.”
 
But Stephen Blank of the U.S. Army War College explained that there is another reason why the Pakistanis closed down the vital route.
 
“There is a great deal of anti-Americanism now in Pakistan, a belief that the United States is using Pakistan territory for operations without consent and just treating Pakistan as a pariah,” Blank said.
 
“The government of Pakistan and the military essentially refuse to accept the fact that they bear a lot of responsibility for support of terrorists and Taliban forces and so on, who are using Pakistan, basically, as a sanctuary in the war in Afghanistan,” said Blank.
 
“And they get very upset when this is pointed out to them in the United States, and they say well, ‘Okay, we are going to retaliate by using whatever means we have and basically shutting down the supplies to Afghanistan,’” he added.
 
Route cost effective
 
But even now that Pakistan is letting NATO supplies move through its territory, experts still question whether the decision to re-open the southern route is a prelude to better relations between Washington and Islamabad.
 
Even so, they point out that using Pakistan’s southern route will save the alliance an estimated $100 million a month, most of which has been used to ship supplies via the longer northern route that winds its way from the Baltic States, through Russia and Central Asia.
 
Analysts also point out that both southern and northern routes will be used to move soldiers and equipment out of Afghanistan, as the United States and other NATO countries wind down their military presence in that country. But some experts said that moving NATO’s 130,000 troops - 90,000 of them American - out of Afghanistan will present a huge logistical challenge.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid