Pakistan border closure will have little effect on Nato’s Afghanistan campaign
New supply lines via Tajikstan and Uzbekistan mean Islamabad will only be able to push up costs and inconvenience war effort
By Jon Boone in Kabul
Pakistan’s government once had the power to bring Nato’s war machine to a shuddering halt through its control of a key route into landlocked Afghanistan. But today it can only aspire to cause inconvenience and slightly push up the cost of a war already running at $120bn a year.
As Washington’s relationship with Islamabad soured in recent years, Nato’s logistics chiefs tried to break their reliance on Pakistan for getting enough food, fuel and other vital supplies to their troops in Afghanistan.
Such goods used to arrive almost entirely through what is known as the southern distribution network, which runs from Pakistani container ports on the Arabian Sea over road and rail links to the border towns of Torkham and Chaman.
Those two crossing points are currently closed to Nato traffic following the killing of at least 24 Pakistani soldiers in a US air strike on Saturday.
The supply line has also proved vulnerable to attack from insurgents inside Afghanistan, who have attacked convoys, blowing up dozens of fuel tankers at a time and looting goods intended for troops.
In 2008, Pakistani television showed shots of gleeful insurgents driving around in bullet proof Humvees that had literally fallen off the back of a truck. The vehicles had been en route to Afghan security forces.
Many of the lorry drivers currently stuck in Pakistan because of the closed borders have complained that they are vulnerable to Taliban attacks.
Pakistan has used its power to shut down the supply line before. Last year it did so for 10 days after Nato forces ….
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