News / Asia

NATO Military Supplies Roll Again Through Pakistan

Afghanistan Supply Routes
Afghanistan Supply Routes
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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid