Pakistan says it is supplying Afghanistan with vital military equipment by air to enhance its neighbor's security and stability.

The Pakistani Defense Ministry says the first "commercial" flight left an airport in the southern port city of Karachi with 15 military vehicles on route to the U.S. Bagram Airfield north of the Afghan capital. The ministry says the vehicles are of "vital importance and urgently required" by Afghan security forces.

Pakistan says the new air route is part of a Pakistan-U.S. Memorandum of Understanding signed in July 2012 that deals with the use of Pakistani "lines of communication" to and from Afghanistan.

The air operation will continue for the next few weeks and is "expected to contribute towards strengthening the existing relations with Afghanistan."

Retired Pakistani General Talat Masood told VOA's Urdu Service, "since we need stability in the region, and stability can only come if Afghanistan is stable, I hope the new Afghan leadership and Pakistan try to improve relations with each other." He added, "Pakistan wants cooperation between the Pakistani military and the Afghan military, and improved military to military relations."


FILE - Men stand near damaged tankers of a NATO su
FILE - Men stand near damaged tankers of a NATO supply convoy after an attack a day earlier in Hub, about 25 km (16 miles) from Karachi, Sept. 16, 2013.

Pakistan is a major supply route for security forces in Afghanistan, but trucks that transport goods for international and Afghan forces are often attacked by militants near the Afghan border.

Officials say gunmen on Monday opened fire on a convoy of trucks carrying NATO supplies in the Jamrud area of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber tribal agency, killing two drivers. At least three others were wounded in the attack that took place on the main highway connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan.