Khan’s Protests Succeed: US Halts Use of Northern Supply Route Through Pakistan
Recall that two weeks ago, John Brennan launched a drone strike in a settled area of Pakistan (rather than the remote tribal areas where most strikes take place) in the very province ruled by drone critic Imran Khan’s PTI party. Last week, Khan retaliated, with his party behind an attempt to break the cover of the CIA station chief in Islamabad. Khan also launched massive demonstrations aimed at disrupting the NATO supply route that runs through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Yesterday, the Pentagon announced that use of that route for removal of equipment from Afghanistan is being halted until it once again becomes safe for the drivers of the trucks.
Reuters was first to bring news of the interruption:
The affected route, which runs from Torkham Gate at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the Pakistani port city of Karachi, has been crucial for the United States as it winds down its combat mission in landlocked Afghanistan and moves equipment out of the country.
The route accounts for the vast majority of ground traffic of U.S. military cargo through Pakistan and has been targeted by protesters in Pakistan angered by U.S. drone strikes.
“We are aware protests have affected one of the primary commercial transit routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told Reuters.
“We have voluntarily halted U.S. shipments of retrograde cargo … to ensure the safety of the drivers contracted to move our equipment,” he added, referring to shipments going out of Afghanistan.
The article notes that an alternative land route that goes through Russia and central Asia is longer and more expensive. Although shipments of supplies, especially fuel, into Afghanistan are still needed to maintain troops in Afghanistan, Wright’s statement is strangely silent on whether supply shipments via the northern route in Pakistan also have been halted. Considering that PTI activists armed with clubs have been stopping trucks to inspect their cargo to see if it is related to the troops in Afghanistan, drivers of supply shipments should be just as much at risk as those bringing equipment out of the country.
Khan’s party was quick to claim victory today:
PTI spokeswoman Shireen Mazari hailed the Pentagon’s move as a “tactical success” and said the protests would continue.
“The US decision to halt Nato supplies through Torkham doesn’t affect our protest and we will continue our protest until drone strikes are stopped,” she told news agency AFP.
Khan demanded the government block Nato supplies after a US drone strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud but Islamabad has shown no appetite for such a move.
Believing that this interruption will be brief, the US has called for the transport trucks to wait in holding areas in Afghanistan. Will these holding areas be the sites of the next “tactical success” for opponents of US policy?
With regard to the equipment being shipped out of Afghanistan, note that I had already commented on the move by the US away from the MRAP and to purchase nearly a billion dollars’ worth of new armored vehicles for Afghan military forces. Although many vehicles are being shipped out of the country, many more are simply being destroyed in Afghanistan. If the disruption of the transport route becomes prolonged, look for even more vehicles to be destroyed rather than removed. That process may have already started, however. While traveling last weekend, I happened to overhear a conversation on an airplane in which one party claimed to have been on the ground in Kabul recently to witness brand new MRAP’s arriving by air transport only to be moved across the airport to a site where they were dismantled to be sold as scrap.
Update: Just a few minutes after this post went live, I saw a tweet from ISAFMedia linking to this statement:
While U.S. retrograde and NATO/ISAF cargo are not currently moving through the Torkham Gate in the interest of the safety of the drivers, shipments continue to move into – and out of – Afghanistan via alternate routes.
So it appears that supplies also are not being shipped into Afghanistan via the northern route through Pakistan, just as I had speculated. My guess is that Wright emphasized the retrograde shipments merely to make the point that the disruption could slow US withdrawal.
‘ Recall that two weeks ago, John Brennan launched a drone strike in a settled area of Pakistan … ‘
I recall the Barack the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate slash Serial Assassin Obama is the President of the United States, that John ‘Rabbi” Brennan works for him and not the other way ’round, and that all these cold-blooded murders are at the direction of Barack the NPPL/SA Obama … and that we Americans, rather than chaining up our mad dog, just stupidly stare at him as he murders women and children in mud huts in Pakistan, and Yemen, and arms and funds CIA sponsored al Qaeda who are slaughtering Syrians and destroying the country.
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. I want to spit every time I say that, and think of the cynical Norwegians who played the stooge for the US Department of State and dishonored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and every other real man and woman of peace … they spat upon them, dishonored their memories when they gave the Peace Prize to this nihilist murderer.
I had not thought of Hannah since the Libby trial. Good memories!
Just came over to see if you had heard about this yet. I should have known that you would have written about it hours ago.
More blowback. But one wonders if it can be capitalized on re: the withdrawal.
It’s so comforting to knwo how much some other countries despise us, isn’t it? Thanks, John Brennan!
The thought of “brand new MRAP’s [at $1M apiece] arriving by air transport only to be moved across the airport to a site where they were dismantled to be sold as scrap” is mind-boggling enough, but when added to the months-long stories of trying to remove MRAPs from the country and/or destroying them in place is, well, so “pallets of cash”-ish as to suggest that maybe we haven’t learned a damn thing since the invasion of Iraq. But that couldn’t be true, right? Which reminds me — when do we start receiving the lithium from Afghanistan’s abundant lithium reserves, anyway?
when do we start receiving the lithium from Afghanistan’s abundant lithium reserves, anyway?
I think about the same time that all that Iraqi oil shows up to pay for the war.
The US has an alternate land logistical route that is much shorter and less affected by bad roads and bad weather. It is: Kandahar – Spin Boldak – Chaman Quetta – Karachi. It’s useful for both incoming and outgoing cargo. map
@Don Bacon: Yup. That’s why I often refer to the blocked route as the northern route.
@what constitution?: That business of dismantling new MRAP’s is especially irritating. I dashed off a quick email to the folks at SIGAR right after I put up the post just to make sure they are aware that this is said to be going on.
@what constitution?: We can’t get out of Afghanistan fast enough. What a mess!
Pentagon says halts ground shipments out of Afghanistan via Pakistan — “We are aware protests have affected one of the primary commercial transit routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told Reuters. “We have voluntarily halted U.S. shipments of retrograde cargo … to ensure the safety of the drivers contracted to move our equipment,” he added, referring to shipments going out of Afghanistan.
So halting traffic on one of the primary routes became halting ground traffic, according to Reuters.
And that’s because: “Although there is another ground supply route through Pakistan, closure of the main route essentially shuts off retrograde shipments, one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.”
Oh really,Mr. Anonymous?
Oct 6, 2013
Through Oct. 5, 2013, the Combined Task Force 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment Logistics Support Team has manned twenty-five convoys and uploaded and offloaded approximately 4,000 pieces of equipment each in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XIII-XIV in Spin Boldak district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
The LST has many more convoys ahead of them as FOB Spin Boldak continues its retrograde process, but if anyone was to see this team in action they would think the same thing – there is no task and no mission too difficult for the CTF 1-6 FAR Logistics Support Team.
Spin Boldak, meaning ‘white desert’, is a border town and the headquarters of Spin Boldak District in the southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan, next to the Durand Line border with Pakistan. –wiki
For some reason the Pentagon and its obedient servant Reuters want to project the false story that all ground retrograde movements have stopped.
@Don Bacon: Moving things along the highway between Kabul and Kandahar is a pretty bad idea:
Everything in Afghanistan is a pretty bad idea. Afghanistan DEFINES pretty bad idea. (It’s a simpler choice now that Petraeus is unavailable, Jim.)
@john francis lee:
On Obama’s Nobel:
Thorbjørn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, awarded the Peace Prize to Barack Obama in 2009 shortly after, with US support, he was elected as the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Jagland now lives in France, with a sweet job. New York Times columnist Yoni Brenner has since coined the verb “thorbjorning”, which means to give someone their reward before they have accomplished what they set out to do.
What Don Bacon said, everything in Afghanistan is a bad idea- and so it has ever been- what numbskulls to have rushed in there and then surged!