3 years, 9 months ago
Suspected Islamist militants armed with guns and rockets on Monday blew up a tanker carrying fuel through Pakistan for NATO troops based in neighbouring Afghanistan, police said.
Several armed men lobbed a rocket and then opened fire on the supply convoy on the outskirts of Pakistan’s northwestern city Peshawar, senior police officer Imtiaz Ahmed said.
“The attack triggered a huge fire and destroyed one tanker. Its driver escaped unhurt but his helper was wounded,” he said.
In a subsequent exchange of fire lasting up to an hour, Pakistani security forces killed a militant, another police officer Karim Khan said.
Police did not immediately identify the assailants, but the Taliban and members of local militant group Lashkar-e-Islam regularly attack NATO supply vehicles on the main route through northwest Pakistan.
Lashkar-e-Islam is active in the lawless region of Khyber, which is just outside Peshawar and part of Pakistan’s tribal belt snaking along the Afghan border that Washington has branded the headquarters of Al-Qaeda leaders.
About 80 percent of supplies destined for the 121,000 US and NATO troops in landlocked Afghanistan pass through Pakistan.
Are we making any progress on engagement of the Caucasus?
President Mikheil Saakashvili recently offered Georgia as a logistical hub for NATO’s operations in Afghanistan. This offer, made in an interview with The Associated Press, came only days after NATO had finalised a supply route agreement with Kazakhstan in the wake of NATO’s expanding mission in Afghanistan. While a supply route through Georgia already functions (for equipment, not armaments), U.S. officials have not immediately accepted Saakashvili’s new proposal. Russia might be in the way, analysts say.
Saakashvili offered Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Poti and Batumi as docks for military supply ships and the country’s airports as refuelling points for cargo planes. AP quoted Pentagon officials as saying that the U.S. Defense Department was aware of Saakashvili’s offer, but had not explored the proposal.
The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, has scheduled a visit to Georgia on February 21-22. He plans to meet Saakashvili and visit Georgian troops at the Krtsanisi National Training Centre and observe their training for the operation in Afghanistan. Reportedly, the issue of Georgia as a supply route for the war could also be on the table.
Georgia has already been utilised as a transit point for shipment of non-armaments. “The route to Afghanistan is already used extensively, because almost 80 percent of cargo which is not going through Pakistan is going through Georgia, and only 20 percent through Russia, already,” said Alexander Rondeli, President of GFSIS (the Georgian Foundation for Security in International Studies).
Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said that the supply route to Afghanistan via Eurasia has been in existence since 2001. “I do not think this [Saakashvili’s offer] is something particularly remarkable because the U.S. is covering all the bases. It is shipping equipment, both lethal and non-lethal, via Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as via Georgia and Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea to Central Asia.
Oh good heavens – commit already. To say that 80% of logistics that don’t flow through Pakistan already flow through the Caucasus is to say nothing. Ninety percent of our logistics flow through Pakistan. To say that Russia stands in the way is to reiterate what we all already know, i.e., that there are dangerous dictators who desire regional hegemony. It is to say nothing. Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation is a nice title for a man who needs to do better analysis work. The U.S. has not covered all of the logistical bases when we are reliant on Karachi, Chaman and Khyber to supply our troops in Afghanistan.