2008: The Taliban are trying to cut the U.S./NATO supply line from Pakistan to
Afghanistan. To do this they have to halt the truck traffic going through the
Khyber pass, which is the main road from Pakistan to landlocked Afghanistan.
Some 75 percent of the supplies for foreign troops come via this road. The rest
are flown in, or come via Russian and Central Asian railroads.
about 700 large trucks a day make the Khyber run, but several times this year,
trucks have been attacked by Taliban gunmen, and destroyed, stolen or looted. This
has halted traffic for as long as a week. This has not hurt U.S. or NATO
troops, who, as is the military custom, maintain reserves of all supplies.
across the border is a major business for Pakistan, and vital to the economy of
Afghanistan. So both countries have responded to the Taliban threat by moving more
troops and police in to guard the road. Local tribes have also sent more armed
men along the route, as they have long done, to go after anyone who threatens
the vital trade, and the money they get out of it.
NATO and the U.S. have negotiated with Russia to allow supplies to move to
Afghanistan via Russian rail lines and those of Central Asian nations. These
only go as far as the Afghan border. There are no railroads in Afghanistan.
Thus from the Uzbek border, the freight containers would have to be trucked south to where most of the
U.S. and NATO troops are stationed. The U.S. is seeking a Russian contractor to
arrange for the movement of 50,000 freight containers a year via the
trans-Siberian railroad. Afghans would have the opportunity of forming trucking
companies to move the containers south, along with civilian cargo that could
also move in and out of the existing rail yard on the Uzbek border. This would
amount to a large loss of business for Pakistani transportation firms, and is
an incentive for the Pakistanis to protect the traffic going through the Khyber