Washington: As protest against US drone attacks continuous in Pakistan to block NATO supplies, US getting frustrated with Pakistan because if has to face the possibility of flying out equipment at an additional cost of $1 billion.
The U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the planning, said flying the military equipment out of Afghanistan to a port will cost five to seven times as much as it does to truck it through Pakistan. About a hundred trucks are stacked up at the border, and hundreds more are loaded and stalled in compounds, waiting to leave Afghanistan.
The shipments consist largely of military equipment that is no longer needed now that the Afghan war is ending. Sending the cargo out through the normal Pakistan routes will cost about $5 billion through the end of next year, said a defense official. Flying the heavy equipment, including armored vehicles, out of Afghanistan to ports in the Middle East, where it would be loaded onto ships, would cost about $6 billion if it continued through next year, said the official.
A northern supply route, which runs through Uzbekistan and up to Russia, was used for about seven months last year when Pakistan shut down the southern passages after U.S. airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two border posts. That northern route, however, was used primarily to bring shipments into Afghanistan, and is much longer, more costly and often requires cargo to be transferred from trucks to rail.
The deadlock, if not resolved, could also be costly for Pakistan. In private meetings in Islamabad early last week, Hagel warned Pakistani leaders that unless the military shipments resumed, political support could erode in Washington for an aid program that sends them billions of dollars.
Hagel received assurances from Pakistan leaders during the meetings that they would resolve the problem but no progress has been made.
The protesters are demonstrating against the CIA’s drone program, which has killed civilians.
The group gathers daily at a toll booth on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Peshawar. All traffic going into the tribal areas and on to the Torkham crossing must pass through the toll booth.