Pragmatic | The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan-3

Only 29 percent of NATO supplies come via Pakistan

Previous posts: The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan and The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan-2

From the latest report on Central Asia and the Transition in Afghanistan (pdf) the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs:

Since 2009, the United States has steadily increased traffic onthe NDN, a major logistical accomplishment that has resulted in a series of commercial air and ground routes that supply NATO and U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Close to 75 percent of ground sustainment cargo is now shipped via the NDN. According to U.S. Transportation Command, an estimated 40 percent of all cargo transits the NDN, 31 percent is shipped by air, and the remaining 29 percent goes through Pakistan.

The NDN comprises three principal land routes: one stretching from the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti, through Baku, Azerbaijan, across the Caspian Sea, and into Central Asia; one from the Latvian port of Riga through Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan; and a final route that originates in Latvia and travels through Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and passes into Afghanistan via Tajikistan. An estimated 70 percent of cargo transiting the NDN enters at Uzbekistan’s Hairaton Gate.

The NDN has allowed the United States to diversify its supply routes into Afghanistan, instead of relying solely on Pakistan for transit. Whereas in 2009, about 90 percent of U.S. non-military supplies for Afghanistan transited through the Pakistani port city of Karachi, today, more non-lethal cargo is shipped to Afghanistan via the NDN than through Pakistan.

The NDN is not a perfect substitute for the current supply routes in Pakistan. The NDN only allows for one-way transit of goods to Afghanistan, though discussions are reportedly underway to expand the NDN to support two-way transit of cargo leaving Afghanistan via the northern routes. The NDN also only allows for the transit of non-lethal supplies, such as cement, lumber, blast barriers, septic tanks, and matting. Sensitive and high-technology equipment is transported by airlift. Moreover, the NDN is not cheap. It costs roughly an additional $10,000 per twenty-foot container to ship via the NDN instead of Pakistan. But airlifting supplies directly into Afghanistan remains the most expensive option, which costs an estimated $40,000 more per twenty-foot container, according to U.S. Transportation Command.

To bring it down from 90 percent of supplies in 2009 to 29 percent now, it has been quite an effort by the US military. As the US forces drawdown in Afghanistan, this dependency on Pakistan will decline further. The reduction of their leverage over the US is an imminent reality which Pakistani generals need to confront.


DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.