Reports from inside Afghanistan speak of NATO-ISAF and US forces destroying heavy war machinery towards their bid for making preparations to vacate the country. The question is why they are destroying such expensive weapons. Are they reluctant to hand them over to the Afghan National Army or Afghan National Police? The answer is the US can no longer trust the Afghans, who are not even the Taliban. Secondly the destroying of those items is not as costly as its shipment back home would be, either through Pakistani route or from the NDN route. Though the NATO supply route has already been opened from Pakistan, yet the Americans have been giving the impression that the almost two-month halting of NATO containers, from Pakistan, is affecting the cost that is much cheaper than the Northern Distribution Network (NDN).

The Central Asian States host the NDN that enables movement of NATO supplies and troops to Afghanistan. But the fact remains, as according to US estimates, that 55% of non-lethal cargo at present goes through NDN using road and rail network. The long distance, the unfriendly terrain, the environment and roads condition take the US to pay six times more than the cost it spends while using the Pakistan route.

Though the plans were under way to further increase the NDN capacity, yet it was facing many hurdles which are still not likely to be overcome. The cargo passing through Pakistan can only be subjected to terrorist attacks, which has seldom occurred. However, when lethal cargo is added to the traffic on NDN routes, it was definitely going to invite the wrath of the terrorists much to the expectations of Central Asian leaders, hence the NDN could not replace Pakistani route for sustaining NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Nawaz Sharif’s assertion in his August 14 speech at the Convention Centre in the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Pakistan has such a significant standing amongst the comity of nations that no one can take decision without Pakistan’s inclusion stands true. Wisdom demands that Nawaz Sharif must use this advantage courageously yet pragmatically and sagaciously.

ESCHMALL SARDAR,

Hayatabad, September 10.