While the US has been distracted by the presidential election, the Syrian conflict, and jihadist outbursts in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, the Gaza strip and elsewhere, Pakistan has been moving at a glacial pace to restore NATO’s critical oil supply line to Afghanistan.
The logistical supply lines, but not the oil supply lines, were opened in July after an apology two months earlier by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a US attack on a Pakistani military outpost in Mohmand on the night of Nov. 25-26, 2011 that left 25 Pakistani soldiers dead. US forces in Afghanistan attacked the Salala outpost just across the border after receiving fire from the outpost and sending up signal flares that were ignored.
After a 12-month blockade, the flow of oil through NATO’s Pakistani supply lines is due to resume by the end of this month, according to the Express Tribune. The first two test-run tankers made it through the Torkham crossing in Khyber last week. “Officials cited multiple reasons [for the stoppage] including security issues faced by drivers and oil tankers on the route through Pakistan,” the Express Tribune report stated.
As we noted back in July, the deal with Pakistan for the reopening of the supply lines involved sweeteners beyond Clinton’s apology, including but not limited to: the release of $1.1 billion in withheld funds for Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts; reimbursements to Pakistani truckdrivers to the tune of $6,000 per truck stranded by the closure of the supply lines; and authorizing Pakistan to inspect every NATO vehicle passing through its territory.
And as we also observed, the deal also included the stipulation that the supply lines through Pakistan would not be available after the 2014 deadline set for the withdrawal of Coalition forces from Afghanistan. Pakistan seeks to hold the US to its 2014 withdrawal date and to limit, by means including control over supply routes, US influence in Afghanistan.
Our conclusion then still applies: “The bottom line is that Pakistan has manipulated the supply route issue — which even the Taliban have called a “drama” orchestrated by the Pakistani government — to continue to siphon billions of US dollars while at the same time maintaining Pakistan’s jihadist proxies in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”