Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cost of supplying Afghan War increases 600%

, DC Foreign Policy Examiner
January 19, 2012 

The cost of supplying the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan has increased 600% since Pakistan closed its borders in November, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.  

Using a Northern route to supply the Afghan War costs the United States $104 million dollars a month, an increase of $87 million from the $17 million it cost Washington when supplies were mainly sent through Pakistani territory, the AP report said.

Pakistan has refused to allow NATO supply convoys use its territory since a NATO airstrike killed 24 Pakistani troops last November. Pakistani political and military officials claimed that the killing of its troops was deliberate and refused to join a NATO investigation into the incident. Along with closing its border, Islamabad responded to the incident by forcing Washington to close down a base in Pakistan that it used to conduct drone strikes, as well as by refusing to attend an international conference on the future of Afghanistan held in Bonn, Germany in earlier December.

The NATO probe, which the Pentagon released in late December, said mistakes were made by both sides and that "inadequate coordination" and poor maps had led NATO air forces to mistakenly target the Pakistani soldiers. While expressing its "deepest regret" for the loss of life-and offering its "sincere condolences," to the Pakistani people, government and families of the soldiers that were killed- the Obama administration refused to apologize for the event. Pakistan rejected the conclusions of the report.

Since the November incident U.S.-Pakistani relations have reached their lowest point in the decades-long usually turbulent relationship. The United States has given Pakistan roughly $20 billion in foreign aid since 9/11. Recent reports, however, have cited unnamed U.S. and Pakistani officials saying they expect a more limited relationship in the future. On Wednesday, Pakistan refused to receive U.S. special envoy for AfPak issues, Marc Grossman, who was scheduled to visit Islamabad as part of a broader regional trip. Pakistani officials said Grossman's visit wasn't appropriate because they are currently revaluating their ties with Washington.

On Thursday an unnamed Pakistani official told Reuters his country intended to re-open supply routes to NATO, but would impose higher tariffs on the alliance. The official did not give a date for when the routes would actually be reopened.

Shahzad Afzal

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