Tag Archives | NATO supply lines

Now we are just haggling over the price

What the price negotiations about NATO supply lines remind us of

Pakistan wants an additional $5000 for each truck that passes through its its territory carrying non-lethal supplies for NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan. US is hoping to clinch the deal at $1500-1800 a truck of supplies. Pakistan also wants an indemnity waiver in case American cargo is damaged. US might end up discontinuing the Coalition Support Fund money it pays to Pakistan to balance out the new levy on supply trucks. And the haggling continues.

This reminds us of the story (often attributed to George Bernard Shaw) of a conversation between a very sophisticated gentleman and a very respectable lady at a party.

“Well,” says the gentleman, “just for the sake of our argument, suppose I offered you $100,000—would you spend the night with me?”

The lady, smiling coquettishly: “Who knows—I might very well!”

The gentleman: “Now suppose I offer you $10 for the night?”

The lady: “But what do you think I am?”

The gentleman: “We’ve already established what you are. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”

One wonders if that is the line someone from the US actually uses during the negotiations when the Pakistan rhetoric over sovereignty gets too much to bear: “We’ve already established what you are. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”

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Just do the maths

Of closing NATO supply lines through Pakistan

As per Washington Post, it costs the US $100 billion annually to keep 100,000 American troops on Afghan soil.

As per Dawn, using the Central Asian route for NATO supplies is costing the US an additional $38 million a month.

As per the Express Tribune, Pakistan has budgeted $1.1 billion in the next year’s budget as reimbursements from the United States on account of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). The figure for the current fiscal year is $1.34 billion. And outstanding CSF dues at present amount to $2.5 billion.

Now do the maths. At $38 million a month, the losses sustained by not using supply routes in Pakistan over a year are $456 million. This is not even half a percent of the total amount being spent by the Pentagon in Afghanistan. Moreover, it is barely one-fifth of the CSF amount Pakistan wants from the US in the current and the next fiscal year. Do you still think the US is deeply hurt by the financial losses it is incurring by stoppage of NATO supply routes via Pakistan? In fact, Pakistan has done the US a favour by closing the supply lines. It is actually saving the US some money.

Perhaps this also explains John Kerry’s statement yesterday where he asked Pakistan to act against jehadi groups being provided sanctuary in that country. And he is the same John Kerry people expected would come and deliver a formal public apology to Pakistan.

[Hat Tip: @majorlyprofound for the idea]

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Demand and supply (The Pakistan-US version)

What Pakistan wants to open the supply routes, and what the US can give

This one has been in the offing for a few months now. And it is finally here — the review of Pakistan’s relations with the US by Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS). For months, everyone including the man who really matters in Pakistan, the army chief, General Kayani has sworn to abide by the directions of the parliamentary review. There is some meat, a lot of rhetoric and a few unintentionally funny demands in the 40-pointer Guidelines for Revised Terms of Engagement with the US/ NATO/ ISAF and General Foreign Policy (pdf).

Ignoring the rhetoric in the PCNS review report, let us focus on the meaty ones — Pakistani demands, and the likely US reaction.

#2 – The US must review its footprints in Pakistan. This means (i) the cessation of drone strikes inside the territorial borders of Pakistan,

= It is impossible that the US will agree to stop drone strike inside Pakistan. These drone strikes are low-risk, low-cost means to effectively target al Qaeda and other jehadi groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Having seen them deliver good results so far, these strikes form the very basis of US strategy in Pakistan. The best that the US can perhaps agree to is to stop using Pakistani airbases to fly its drones, and operate them only from bases in Afghanistan.

What happens if the US refuses to accede to this demand? Will Pakistan muster up its aircrafts and anti-aircraft weapons to shoot these drones inside Pakistani airspace? Or it will continue to be nudge-nudge, wink-wink as hitherto.

#5 – The Government of Pakistan should seek an unconditional apology from the US for the unprovoked incident dated 25th-26th November, 2011, in Mohmand agency…

= It has been reported that the US President was about to offer an apology to Pakistan around the time the Quran burning incident occurred in Afghanistan. His apology to Afghanistan put him in a political spot domestically and has made it difficult for him to apologise to Pakistan now. However, it is possible that a senior US military official could call up General Kayani and apologise for the Salala incident. Of course, Pakistan Army will spin it as an “unconditional apology”  which will then give it an excuse to carry on with its ghairat (pride) intact.

#11 – Taxes and other charges must be levied on all goods imported in or transiting through Pakistan for use of infrastructure and to compensate for its deterioration.

= This is something which will be negotiated between US and Pakistan. Pakistan, more particularly the Pakistani Military-Business Complex, needs US dollars and wants to milk the NATO supply routes to the maximum possible extent. The US military needs the supply routes through Pakistan not to supply its troops in Afghanistan but to bring the military equipment out of the theatre, consequent to the planned troop drawdown.

#15 – A new fast-track process of billings and payments/ reimbursements with regard to CSF and other leviable charges shall be adopted.

= US has not given a penny to Pakistan as Coalition Support Funds (CSF) reimbursement since November 2010. Pakistan’s perilous economic situation necessitates an early transfer of CSF money from the US. While US might release some old dues as a one-time sop after the supply lines resume through Pakistan, it is unlikely to amend the process of audit and verification of bills submitted by Pakistan Army towards CSF reimbursement. Audit and verification of bills is a Congressional requirement and the US Department of Defense can’t afford to bypass that stipulation.

To sum up, out of these four demands, the one on drones will not be accepted by the US. Two will be met partially — the apology may not be unconditional but would still be an apology, and some old CSF dues may be released by the US while the process remains unchanged. The demand on levying new taxes and charges will be — or has perhaps already been — negotiated by the US.  This is how the final score sheet looks like : one No, one Yes, and two Maybe. If that one No is not a Veto, NATO supply lines through Pakistan should resume next month.

Now to the unintentional levity in the PCNS report. There are a few but this one is absolutely hilarious:

#9 – There should be prior permission and transparency on the number and presence of foreign intelligence operatives in Pakistan.

Really! Now dear PCNS, did you really need to prove that talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand?

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The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan-3

Only 29 percent of NATO supplies come via Pakistan

Previous posts: The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan and The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan-2

From the latest report on Central Asia and the Transition in Afghanistan (pdf) by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs:

Since 2009, the United States has steadily increased traffic on the NDN, a major logistical accomplishment that has resulted in a series of commercial air and ground routes that supply NATO and U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Close to 75 percent of ground sustainment cargo is now shipped via the NDN. According to U.S. Transportation Command, an estimated 40 percent of all cargo transits the NDN, 31 percent is shipped by air, and the remaining 29 percent goes through Pakistan.

The NDN comprises three principal land routes: one stretching from the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti, through Baku, Azerbaijan, across the Caspian Sea, and into Central Asia; one from the Latvian port of Riga through Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan; and a final route that originates in Latvia and travels through Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and passes into Afghanistan via Tajikistan. An estimated 70 percent of cargo transiting the NDN enters at Uzbekistan’s Hairaton Gate.

The NDN has allowed the United States to diversify its supply routes into Afghanistan, instead of relying solely on Pakistan for transit. Whereas in 2009, about 90 percent of U.S. non-military supplies for Afghanistan transited through the Pakistani port city of Karachi, today, more non-lethal cargo is shipped to Afghanistan via the NDN than through Pakistan.

The NDN is not a perfect substitute for the current supply routes in Pakistan. The NDN only allows for one-way transit of goods to Afghanistan, though discussions are reportedly underway to expand the NDN to support two-way transit of cargo leaving Afghanistan via the northern routes. The NDN also only allows for the transit of non-lethal supplies, such as cement, lumber, blast barriers, septic tanks, and matting. Sensitive and high-technology equipment is transported by airlift. Moreover, the NDN is not cheap. It costs roughly an additional $10,000 per twenty-foot container to ship via the NDN instead of Pakistan. But airlifting supplies directly into Afghanistan remains the most expensive option, which costs an estimated $40,000 more per twenty-foot container, according to U.S. Transportation Command.

To bring it down from 90 percent of supplies in 2009 to 29 percent now, it has been quite an effort by the US military. As the US forces drawdown in Afghanistan, this dependency on Pakistan will decline further. The reduction of their leverage over the US is an imminent reality which Pakistani generals need to confront.

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The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan-2

Only 40 percent of the US military supplies come through Pakistan

Previous post: The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan

The testimony of Lt. Gen. Mitchell Stevenson, deputy chief of staff for logistics, to the Senate Armed Services readiness subcommittee, as reported in the media (see Defense News), should lay to rest a few prevalent myths (like The Economist says that Pakistan “lets America drive three-quarters of its war supplies from Karachi”) about the US dependency on supply routes through Pakistan.

There are four facts which are worth remembering from this testimony. One, only 40% of US military supplies to Afghanistan come via Pakistan, and the US intends to bring it down to 25% eventually.

Two, US army keeps 45 days worth of fuel on the ground in Afghanistan so that operations can withstand severe disruptions to its supply lines.

Three, if the Pakistani routes were shut down, the US would increase its use of airdrops and flow more in from the northen route. However the northern route takes much longer and is more expensive.

Four, the US is also experimenting with shipping more supplies to a nearby “friendly country” (like Bahrain) and then flying them into Afghanistan using C-17s. The US Army is examining whether this route is cheaper in the long run because it avoids pilferage and other kinds of attacks.

With all these initiatives already in place, and if the proposed US military drawdown from Afghanistan does commence soon, it is highly possible that the US will not remain dependent on supply lines through Pakistan. The implications of that scenario should not be difficult for Pakistani generals to comprehend. Unfortunately for them, this piece of news is unlikely to instill confidence and optimism at a time both are in short supply in that army.

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Kayani fails to keep his promise to NATO

Pakistan army should focus on the areas neighbouring Afghanistan and on securing ISAF supply lines through Pakistan to keep their Chief’s word to NATO.

In the latest round of attacks on the NATO supply lines that go through the Khyber Pass, the “non-state actors” [or is it "stateless actors", President Zardari?] inside a failing state have set ablaze 106 vehicles, including 62 lorries carrying Humvee vehicles. This supply line is significant because “Up to 75 percent of the supplies for Western forces in the landlocked country [Afghanistan] pass through Pakistan after being unloaded from ships at the Arabian sea port of Karachi”.

So much for General Kayani’s promise to NATO military committee last month to secure these ISAF supply lines. The usual explanation for this failure to deliver is the umbilical cord that joins the jehadi groups to the Pakistan army and the ISI. While this is perhaps true, serious questions should also be asked of the capability and professionalism of the Pakistan army. The growing radicalisation of its rank and file, its burgeoning commercial and political interests, its overreach in realms of foreign policy and diplomacy and its continued dependence on non-state actors to further its military aims in neighbouring countries has rendered the Pakistan army incapable of being a top-class professional military force.

Pakistan army has earned far more respect for its professionalism from its Western allies so far than it perhaps deserves. If the Pakistan army can not deliver on the promises made by their Chief to the NATO, then it is not only a clear indictment of their will and willingness but also their professional abilities.

How long will the US and NATO allow this tragic farce to continue inside Pakistan before it is time to execute The Kagan Proposal?

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