NATO will exit Afghanistan as Soviets did, through Central Asia
NATO signs deals with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan to truck its military supplies from Afghan war out through Central Asia, giving it options instead of closed Pakistan route.
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Pakistani officials complain that Washington simply cannot grasp the difficulty of reining in popular Islamist militant groups in a country that sees itself constantly under threat from outside. Washington fails to see the threat that Pakistan’s larger rival, India, poses to Pakistan's very existence, and fails to understand how angry Pakistani citizens become after each successive aerial attack over their territory. For its part, Washington has come to see Pakistan as an unreliable ally, a country where the Pakistani military maintains ties with the very groups that attack US troops on Afghan soil, where America’s biggest enemy, Mr. bin Laden, was taking up residence in a military garrison town.Skip to next paragraph
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NATO and Pakistan could still patch things up. Pakistan has been hinting lately that there is still room for dialogue, with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar suggesting that the US simply needed to apologize for the November bombing of its troops.
"For us in Pakistan ... the most popular thing to do right now is to not move on NATO supply routes at all. It is to close them forever," Ms. Khar told AFP in an interview. "If I were a political adviser to the prime minister, this is what I would advise him to do. But I'm not advising him to do that ... because what is at stake is much more important for Pakistan than just winning an election."
Khar may not want to wait for an apology, given America’s current election season. President Obama seems disinclined, to say the least, and his Republican rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – whose campaign strategy is to attack Mr. Obama as weak on national defense – is about as likely to push for a NATO apology as he is to push for gun control.
So in the meantime, NATO is looking north, and expanding its options.
Trucking out tanks, artillery pieces, and other military devices that were designed specifically to destroy the Soviet Union, on a route through the former Soviet states themselves, is not only rich with irony, it is also quite expensive. The cost of the northern supply route is nearly double that of the Pakistani route, but at least it’s cheaper than flying all that equipment out by air, which costs the US military $14,000 per ton.