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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid