LONDON - While Nato troops die in Afghanistan, stockpiles of military equipment intended for use against the Taliban are being sold on the black market.

The Sunday Express revealed that stolen military-issue knives, Kevlar bulletproof vests, tool kits, flares, first-aid sets and even official stationery are on sale in Pakistan.

At Karkhano in Peshawar, 40 minutes from the Afghan border, merchants display masses of camouflage clothing and military-grade insect repellent at knock-down prices.

One vendor confirmed the kit came from Nato lorries plundered on the border and the US-run Bagram Airbase, where entire containers are illegally bought and auctioned off.

He said buyers “come from all over Pakistan, even foreigners, and are attracted because it is of good quality and is being sold very cheaply”.

He added: “Now the land route from Afghanistan is temporarily blocked, we have to rely on equipment from Bagram which is more costly, but still worthwhile.”

British MP Patrick Mercer said “Much of this kit may have been stolen during hijacking of the convoys, but some is certainly being sold by Afghan National Army forces.”

Afghan forces are being trained by British and allied troops to take over after Nato withdraws in 2014.

Mercer added: “They are not issued with AK-47 rifles because the Taliban use them and commanders did not want to risk them selling ammunition to the enemy.”