The closure of the Nato supply routes in Pakistan has led to the backlogging of thousands of tonnes of equipment, the US Department of Defence said in its semi-annual report on Afghanistan.
The report on Afghanistan’s stability and security situation is based on events from October 2011 to March 2012 and has been submitted to Congress.
“Failure to settle the Pakistan Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs) issue will also significantly degrade redeployment and retrograde operations in support of the drawdown of coalition forces,” the report said.
The report primarily cites the impact of the shutdown of Nato supply routes after a Nato raid killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Mohmand Agency.
The Afghan national police remains under-equipped, the report said, adding that there will be shortages of equipment, especially vehicles for Afghan National Army (ANA) units due to the closure of the GLOCs. Over 4,000 vehicles meant to be used for the ANA, said the DoD report, remain stranded in Pakistan.
“Reopening the GLOCs would improve the US and coalition forces’ mission flexibility and build capacity.”
US forces in Afghanistan have been relying primarily on the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) through Central Asia to send supplies to foreign forces. The report claims that the US has “ensured the sustainment needs of coalition forces and allowed initial proof of principle shipments for retrograding material from Afghanistan to the United States” through the NDN.
However, “the closure of the GLOCs has had a more limited effect on communications equipment and weapons, the delivery of which continues via Air Lines of Communication (ALOCs). Fielding priorities for the next 180 days are expected to be met if Pakistani GLOCs are restored,” the report said.
The closure of the GLOCs has also had an impact on the completion of the Kandahar-Helmand Power Plant programme, and has created a backlog of electrical materials required for the project.
Pakistan’s selective help
The DoD report also labelled safe havens in Pakistan and the “limited capacity of the Afghan government” as the biggest risks to Afghanistan’s security and transforming the state into a durable and sustainable one.
Additionally, the report said that Kandahar remains a contested province in Afghanistan, partly due to the “insurgent safe havens and freedom of movement across the border in Balochistan.”
“Pakistan’s selective counterinsurgency operations, passive acceptance - and in some cases, provision - of insurgent safe havens, and unwillingness to interdict material such as IED components, continue to undermine security in Afghanistan and threaten Isaf’s campaign,” the report said.
While citing meetings between Afghanistan and Pakistan’s leadership, the report goes on to claim that, “pervasive mistrust, long-standing tensions, and divergent strategic interests continue to make genuine cooperation difficult.”
Eastern Afghanistan’s volatility
The report also highlighted that while attacks decreased by 8% as opposed to the same time last year, 34% of all attacks in the country were in eastern Afghanistan, which had increased by 3% as opposed to the same period last year.
The report cites the corridor from Pakistan’s Kurram Agency through Azra District as the most vulnerable area in the east of Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2012.
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