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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Alternative supply route into Afghanistan

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In a sad incident assailants have destroyed ten containers in Tehsil Landi Kotal area of Khyber Agency on Wednesday. The containers were full of supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan. No causality was reported in the incident. Militants also attacked in Landi Kotal cantonment area last night in which an official of Frontier Constabulary (FC) sustained injuries. This is not first and singular example of attacks on NATO convoys delivering goods to troops.

Previously NATO’s vital supply link through the Northwest Frontier Province has been shut down as the Pakistani military launched an operation to clear the Taliban from the area. The move comes as Taliban attacks have increasingly targeted NATO columns and shipping terminals in Khyber and Peshawar. More than 300 NATO vehicles and containers have been destroyed in a series of attacks on shipping terminals in Peshawar as well as attacks on convoys moving through the region.

The NATO logistical chain through Pakistan stretches from the port city of Karachi to Peshawar, through the Khyber Pass to Kabul. More than 70 percent of NATO supplies move through Peshawar.

Options of Alternative routs:
It has been enormously difficult task of supplying troops in landlocked, mountainous and with few good roads, Afghanistan. For Washington Post it is Achilles’ heel of foreign armies here, most recently the Soviets. U.S. officials are seeking alternatives routes, including the prospect of beginning deliveries by a tortuous overland journey from Europe, Iran or Russia.

Kyrgyzstan has Closed a route

However recently Kyrgyz government is planning to close a strategically important U.S. military base that Washington uses as a route for troops and supplies heading into Afghanistan on its territory after Russia offered $2bn of emergency aid to the impoverished central Asian country, Russian media reported Tuesday. The base, located at Manas outside Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, was established with Russia’s support in 2001 to support US coalition forces’ campaign to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said at a news conference in Moscow that “all due procedures” were being initiated to close Manas Air Base, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

U.S. President Barack Obama has made it clear that fight against militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan is more important than in Iraq. War on terror has become his top priority. His administration is expected to send as many as 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in the coming months as Commanders in the field, led by U.S. Gen. David McKiernan has demanded more troops. Obama’s administration is also hoping that other NATO members, which were repeatedly pressed by the Bush administration for more support, will provide more troops – for both combat and accelerated training of Afghan forces. More troops more worrisome for U.S. when movement of Sensitive military goods, such as weapons and ammunition is considered; Torkhum is shortest and easiest route.

Iran as an Option
According to other news NATO would not oppose individual member nations who are interested in making deals with Iran to supply their forces in Afghanistan as an alternative to using increasingly risky routes from Pakistan, the alliance’s top military commander Gen. John Craddock’s commented.

“NATO is looking at flexible, alternate routing. I think that is healthy, Options are a good thing, choices are a good thing, flexibility in military operations is essential, what nations will do is upto them”

Craddock said, when he was inquired about the possibility of the nations with good relations with Iran such as France, Germany and Italy may try to set up an alternate supply route to western Afghanistan via Char Bahar, a port in southeastern Iran.

Iran has a long history of opposing Taliban rule; however for U.S. its role in Afghan war is deemed suspicious. U.S. analytics have been criticizing Iran for supporting militants in Afghanistan such criticism has been muted recently as President Barack Obama’s administration tries to set a new tone in relations with Iran. Bush administration has been claiming that elements in Iran was involved in supplying advanced roadside bombs, other munitions and training to insurgents in Iraq. Even Bush Administration declared Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or its Qods Force a terrorist organization in Iran. Furthermore Iran has similar elements that can create enormous trouble for the supply chains via Iran.

Air Transport System
Air transport systems are considered best to elude supply route problems because air transportation is certainly difficult to attack; however non-combat goods is prohibitively expensive and also logistically difficult.

Why alternative route is required:
In past one year Pakistan has become increasingly dangerous as militants attack convoys that supply the foreign troops in Afghanistan, recent attack is a clear example. Several times these routs have been closed or operations and militants have been reportedly been killed but seepage remain continued from Pak-Afghan Boarders so it becomes difficult for U.S. to provide troops with necessary things from bullets and bombs to fuel to lettuce.

War on terror is on its end:
Since all the options are diminishing for U.S. for delivering goods to troops in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan would shut its military base that was established with Russian support; even if they do not that route is difficult and expensive. Since Russia and U.S. have not been in very friendly relationships. Ideological dichotomous history along with an era of cold war spreading over years; compel world to assume that Russia would not easily keep its support on for U.S.

U.S. new administration though changing its tone towards Iran but still extremist elements exist in Iran who certainly can be troublesome for transporting convoys. There are other antagonistic factors that has agonized segments in Iran; such as rising demands of closing its uranium enrichment activities; a strong attempt to stop Iran from seeking atomic power for peaceful purposes. It is deemed U.S. would seldom consider going to Afghanistan from Iran.

The war in Afghanistan has its ramifications in Pakistan too. Pakistan is a strongest alley in war on Terror with U.S but it is expected from a democratic government not to support U.S. in its war in manner that harms its national Interest. Drone attacks in tribal areas of Pakistan are aggravating situation and the influence of local Taliban is increasing among tribesmen. However it becomes difficult to measure who is behind these attacks however these can not be localities who would ultimately harm civil population of Pakistan. Taliban have a very clear mandate behind these attacks to pressurize government of Pakistan to stop its assistance to U.S. After attacking the major bridge; an eminent supply line to NATO forces has been disrupted and reconstruction of this line calls for ten days work. This has certainly effected the supply to allied forces. Thus Increased number of attacks on convoys have left U.S. with no options other than to discontinue its war on terror in Afghanistan.

can be effected.

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Rubab Saleemhttp://www.rubabsaleem.com
Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times
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