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Growth storm in a tweet cup

The tragedy of a public debate delinked from empirical reality

This blogger tweeted a column in Mint by Niranjan Rajadyashkha last evening. Here is the tweet.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/pragmatic_d/status/157480532169592832"]

While the column will hardly qualify as being charitable to the UPA government, the fact that the growth rate for FY03 (2002-03 to be more explicit) of 3.8% happened under the BJP-led NDA government, attracted the usual hordes on Twitter. Just to put the record straight, I asked Niranjan about the source of his data. It comes from the most authentic source — Reserve Bank of India’s Handbook of Statistics (last updated on September 15, 2011), Table 224.

Let me pre-empt the next question. But what about the 8.5% growth rate in 2003-04? Here is what the Economic Survey for 2003-04 said:

A growth rate higher than 8 percent has been achieved in the past in only three years: 1967-68 (8.1 percent),  1975-76 (9 percent) and 1988-89 (10.5 percent). However, the higher than expected growth in 2003-04, like in the other three years referred to above, was on the back of a year of poor growth (4.0 percent) due to an unfavourable monsoon and fall in agricultural production. [Para 1, Chapter 1]

This much for the facts – to set them straight.

As for the opinion, growth rate at any point of time is an outcome of  combination of factors: legacy policies (economic reforms undertaken by the Congress government from 1991 to 1993 or tax reforms of P Chidambaram’s Dream Budget of 1997), incumbent government’s policies (impetus to road construction under Mr Khanduri or bold disinvestment under Mr Shourie in the NDA government), geopolitical situation (reflected in the fluctuating price of crude oil), geoeconomic situation (global economic crisis of 2008), bad monsoons (leading to negative agricultural growth in 2002-03) and the prevailing political situation (which earned Yashwant Sinha the sobriquet of a Rollback Minister or Dr Manmohan Singh the tag of not really being a reformer).

Politically partisan people can pick the factors of their choice from the above list while ignoring others. That may help them in yelling their opinions but it won’t change the facts.

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Two Kerala myths

State-led success and low growth rate

Arvind Panagariya in the Times of India:

One, these expenditures have hovered around a bare 1% of GSDP. Two, and much more importantly, private expenditures on health dwarf public expenditures in Kerala: in 2004-05, the latest year for which we have data, whereas public expenditures amounted to just 0.9% of GSDP, private expenditures were a gigantic 8.2%. The corresponding India-wide figures were 0.9 and 3.6% of GDP, respectively.

The proportion of the population accessing public health services reinforces this story. In 2004, only one-third of rural and one-fifth of urban population chose the public health system for non-hospitalised treatment. Likewise, only about one-third of the population in both rural and urban areas chose public facilities for hospitalised treatment.

This same pattern is observed in education. NGO Pratham carries out extensive surveys of children in school up to 16 years of age in rural India. According to its latest report ASER 2010, excluding two or three tiny northeastern states, at 53% Kerala has the highest proportion of students between ages 7 and 16 in private schools in rural India. The corresponding figure for the nearest rival, Haryana, is barely 40%. No matter how we look at it, the conventional and dominant story of Kerala as a state-led success crumbles in the face of hard facts.[ToI]

From the conclusion in India’s Growth in the 2000s: Four Facts by Utsav Kumar and Arvind Subramanian [pdf]:

The analysis of growth in the 2000s throws up one more quirk, relating to Kerala. The conventional wisdom is that this state is Scandinavian in its social achievements but sclerotic in its growth performance because of investment-chilling labor laws and strong trade unions. This is reflected in a labor force that has voted with its feet by emigrating to the Middle East. The abiding caricature is of the lazy, argumentative Malayali, discussing Foucault and Gramsci over endless cups of chai while living parasitically off the remittances sent by relatives in exile. However, the data suggest that the conventional wisdom and the caricature are dead wrong. Kerala posted among the highest rates of growth in the 1990s (4 percent per capita), continued its stellar performance in the go-go 2000s (7.5 percent), and exhibited great resilience during the crisis, experiencing virtually no decline in growth.

India, evidently, is capacious enough to allow both Bania, reforming Gujarat and Marxist, and reform-resistant Kerala to flourish. Or, to put it more honestly, the Indian growth miracle, including the experience of the 2000s, continues to confound.[Paper]

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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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Start with simple steps

To counter the danger of increasing contempt for politics

The parliament hasn’t functioned for the eighth consecutive day today. Here is how the events transpired in the Lok Sabha today.

In the Lok Sabha, trouble erupted soon after Speaker Meira Kumar made obituary reference to former member Harish Kumar Gangawar of the Congress and read out a message on World AIDS Day. But that peace was short-lived.

The government has refused to withdraw its cabinet decision to allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 percent in single-brand retail and the opposition is equally unblinking, asking it to reverse the policy or face continuing disruptions. The Prime Minister is believed to have told allies again that the government won’t roll back its decision.

Trinamool Congress MPs were seen standing in the aisles protesting the FDI decision. Buoyed by the cracks in the ruling combine, BJP members, some of them smiling, were also up on their feet, raising slogans and demanding an adjournment motion on the issue.

Left members, ideologically opposed to any market reforms, also demanded that the policy needed to be reversed.

There were other issues as well.

Congress members from Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh raised the decibel level demanding a separate state of Telangana.

MPs from Kerala also walked towards Meira Kumar’s podium demanding a new dam downstream of the leaking Mullaperiyar dam. They say the leakage has threatened the safety of more than three million people living in five districts of the state.

AIADMK members from Tamil Nadu were on the other side of the podium seeking implementation of the Supreme Court order on raising the storage level of the Mullaperiyar dam to 142 feet.

Meira Kumar tried to take the Question Hour but the din led her to adjourn the house till noon. When the ruckus continued after the house met again, she adjourned it for the day.[HT]

On top of such behaviour, when members of parliament ask for an increase in their official status, including a right to have red light atop their cars, it doesn’t go down well with the masses. While calls in the media for instituting a ‘No work, no pay’ rule for the MPs may be meaningless, it does point to a greater danger — an increasing contempt for politics in this country. Even while everyone will continue to swear by democracy and publicly hold it in high esteem, he or she has an equal amount of disdain for politics and politicians.

Is it possible to be a firm believer in democracy while having contempt for politics? Let me quote Pratap Bhanu Mehta (The Burden of Democracy; Page 21):

A contempt for politics will be worse than the corruption of politics; a search for an answer to our discontent is doomed unless it goes through the dangerous process of politics itself. This is something I firmly believe in, and for me, to be a democrat and express contempt for politics, even with its sordid horse-trading, opportunism and feverishness, is almost an oxymoron.(The Burden of Democracy)

The answer to restoring faith in politics lies in radical social change. This is a big project which can take generations to accomplish. But there is something which can be done in the short-term to get the stalled parliament to start functioning.

C.V. Madhukar, director of PRS Legislative Research, argues that the parliamentary rules of engagement need an overhaul. He suggests that India could take a leaf out of the rule book of its former colonial ruler, Britain, where the opposition is allotted 20 days per year when it can set the agenda.[NYT]

We need more of such simple, and sensible solutions to break the stalemate in the parliament. Dum spiro, spero [While I breath, I hope].

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The Valley of unemployment

Sustained spell of stability, peace and security will attract corporates to Kashmir.

Reuters has a report on how “the rapid growth of India’s giant economy is finally exerting a pull on the troubled Kashmir Valley”. It focuses on the call centre, run by Essar Group’s business processing arm, AEGIS in Srinagar to highlight this trend. The story goes on to highlight:

Like many developing societies around the globe, Kashmir is experiencing a “youth bulge,” where 71 percent of the population is under the age of 35. Of the large cohort of youth between the ages of 18 to 30 in the Kashmir Valley, an estimated 48 percent are currently unemployed.

In a recent survey conducted by the London-based think tank Chatham House, 96 percent of respondents from the Kashmir Valley identified unemployment as one of the main problems facing the state of Jammu & Kashmir along with conflict and corruption.[Reuters]

Government of India has approved an employment plan (SEE J&K), fully funded by the Centre, to provide job-oriented training to some 40,000 graduates, post-graduates and professional degree holders in the state over a period of five years. With an estimated expenditure of approximately Rs 250,000 per trainee, the plan is based on the recommendations of expert group headed by known economist C Rangarajan set up by the Prime Minister in August 2010. But with an estimated 500,000 unemployed youth in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, this initiative is unlikely to make a significant difference in the short-term.

Although the SEE J&K plan is to be jointly implemented by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and India’s corporate sector, the answer to unemployment concerns of the state perhaps lies in more direct investment by India’s corporate sector in the Valley. A recent interview of founder chairman and chief mentor of Infosys, NR Narayana Murthy, explains why this isn’t happening.

Dr Faisal: Sir, we have recorded the unprecedented tourist arrivals in Kashmir this year, but unfortunately the investors are still not convinced, they are not still ready to come into the valley. And given that we have a very huge population of educated, unemployed youth and Kashmir does have an advantage when it comes to the software industry, I would just ask you that when is Infosys coming to Kashmir?

Mr Narayana Murthy: Absolutely. You know I was one of the earlier business people to go to Srinagar with Prime Minister Vajpayee and Barkha was also there, and at that point of time I did express that we would like to leverage the enormous strength of the wonderful youngsters that you have. But having said that, the reality is simply this, our business requires that our customers travel time and again in the course of a project. And for that to happen there will have to be, you know, stability, there will have to be a sense of peace, a sense of harmony, a sense of comfort, a sense of safety, and I think with officers like you in charge I have no doubt that we will reach that stable state pretty soon. And I can assure you that once we have that stable state, it will be an absolute privilege for us to come there. But let me assure you, let me tell you that we have lots of Kashmiris employed in Infosys in different development centres, absolutely.[NDTV]

The crux of what Mr Murthy says is this: there has to be stability, a sense of peace, a sense of harmony, a sense of comfort, a sense of safety — in other words, a prolonged spell of normalcy, peace and security for the corporates to invest in the state. The governments, both at the state and the centre, can only do this much to ensure normalcy. It is up to the Kashmiris to ensure that their political grievances are not exploited by Pakistan-backed and -funded separatist leadership to hurt the economic interests of Kashmiris. Current modes of expression of their grievances — whether by the gun or by stones or by shutdowns — need to be discarded in the favour of smarter alternatives, which will provide the average Kashmiri with an opportunity to lead a better life.

In other words, there is a need to get rid of the prevalent political economy of conflict in Kashmir. Because it is all about conflict; it has nothing to do with either politics or economy.

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US withdrawal will hurt Pakistan army

Some consequences of US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

President Obama has announced the drawdown of US military surge from Afghanistan by the middle of next year. Nearly 33,000 US troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 2012, which means that 68,000 US troops will still remain in that country.

With nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan today, US transports 40 percent of its supplies through Pakistan. The US had plans to eventually bring it down to 25 percent. Going by a rough yardstick of supplies being directly proportional to the number of troops, with a 33 percent reduction in troops, the US military would theoretically be in a position to bring the percent of supplies over Pakistani soil down to a single digit.

This has a direct bearing on Pakistan GHQ’s status in its relationship with the US. It will drastically diminish the significant leverage — although constantly decreasing over the last couple of years — the GHQ has held over the US for many years now. This leverage has been exercised by either threatening to close the supply routes or asking its proxies to bring the supply lines to a halt by coordinated attacks on tankers carrying fuel for US forces. This will also silence many Western commentators who argue that the US must supply military aid and equipment to Pakistan military as a transactional quid pro quo for maintaining the supply lines from Karachi to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

There are three major reasons proffered by Western commentators for placating Pakistan. While the long-term strategic aim may be driven by fears of a nuclear-armed country falling to the jehadis, the two short-term goals have been provision of supplies to US forces in Afghanistan, and preventing any terror attack on the US mainland. US-Pakistan intelligence cooperation, one of tools for pre-empting and preventing a terror attack, has already hit the rock-bottom in recent months. With the rumours of an impending Pakistani denial of  bases to US inside Pakistan for operating CIA’s armed drones, the US will have to operate its drones from the bases in Afghanistan (as suggested by Bruce Riedel in today’s NYT). This will further reduce the transactional component of US-Pakistan relationship, which is reflected in Hillary Clinton’s statement during today’s testimony on Pakistan that “We are not prepared to continue providing [military aid to Pakistan] at the pace we were providing it until we see steps taken”.

There is another, an often ignored aspect of this reduced US dependency on Pakistan for military supplies in Afghanistan: the financial losses it will bring to the Pakistan MilBus (Ayesha Siddiqa’s description of the Pakistani Military-Business complex). As my colleague Nitin Pai has explained (here), Pakistan army has benefitted to the tune of approximately $500 million per year by allowing these supplies to transit through Pakistan. This has created vested interests along the supply chain which will be hurt by this dismantling of the political economy along the supply route. It will create further social and political unrest and fuel more anti-American sentiment inside Pakistan.

The announcement of withdrawal of the US surge forces from Afghanistan is significant not merely for the US domestic audiences and Afghanistan but for Pakistan too. Its impact on Pakistan is going to be far greater than is being currently estimated by most experts.

Beyond Afghanistan, has India started to analyse the impact of this announcement on the regional dynamics in the months to come? What is India’s strategy to deal with the developing situation? Are there any plans on the anvil to safeguard Indian interests — mainly the safety and security of Indians on Indian and foreign soils — in the region? These are questions which need answers — the answers that should be coming from the Government of India.

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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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What is the purpose of our defence acquisitions?

Acquiring capacity or acquiring technology.

The dilemma in India’s defence procurement process — as is with any other major country — is about getting the latest technology versus acquiring a capability that meets a specific purpose. This often creates a disconnect in terms of what the country’s defence forces want and what they really need.

India’s stated preference understandably is to acquire the technology and build the weapons itself. The desire for modern defence technology and eventual self-sufficiency will ideally be the focus of any country. It is presumed that this will automatically bring the requisite capability along the way, rendering the question of an either-or choice between capacity and technology redundant.

This, however, can not mean that the organising principle becomes technology and then you improve your capacity based on whatever technology is available out there. Unfortunately that seems to be the case in Indian defence manufacturing for the last few decades.

A couple of months ago, I put this question to my fellow blogger, Dhruva Jaishankar. Here is an extract from his reply that was lying buried in my email inbox since.

As I see it, we have two objectives, one short-term and one long-term. Our long-term objective – in theory – is to develop the best possible indigenous defense technology, through self-development and technology transfers from those willing to offer it on our terms. This will, again in theory, help preserve our independence of military action while allowing us to compete with the best. I completely agree that this should be our long-term objective, but do not like how this is being executed or brought about.

Unfortunately, because of the poor execution of this long-term objective of acquiring technology, we fall short in our ability to acquire capacity. As a result, we end up making short-term purchases which are purely capacity-driven. This is not bad, necessarily, but is certainly wasteful, as we buy small quantities (meaning no economies of scale) at market prices (meaning no favorable deals).  If we are able to implement and strategise our technology acquisition properly, we can in theory achieve both objectives simultaneously: acquire capacity and technology.

The point is rather simple. When the Defence Acquisition Council chooses to make a substantive procurement, it must clearly decide whether it is aimed to build capacity or to acquire technology. The deal-making, including the offsets and transfer-of-technology requirements, would vary significantly for the two. Only in exceptional cases can the goal be to acquire short-term capacity and long-term technology simultaneously, which would require a vastly different kind of deal-making.

Of course, it would assist greatly if the 26 percent cap on FDI in defence manufacturing in India was raised to at least 51 percent. Not that it is going to happen any soon. Alas.

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Don’t read, study this data

Making sense of the data for defence capital acquisition expenditure

In the answer to a question raised in the Lok Sabha, the Union defence minister gave out the following data for capital acquisition allocation & expenditure for the Armed Forces for last three years.

Obviously, the total and the percentages were not given there in the official table for anyone to make sense of the dense data. This blogger put those figures up in the table for easier understanding. But even then, it is not the complete story.

As this blogger had explained earlier [here], the capital acquisition consists of two components: one used to fund committed liabilities for items already procured in previous years; and the other for procuring new items and equipment. For eg., the capital acquisition budget for 2008-09 was earmarked as 37482.77 crore, which included committed liabilities of 17846.57 crore. When the actual capital acquisition budget finally spent in 2008-09 was 30000.42 crore, the expenditure on account of new purchases was only 12153.85 crore against an initial allocation of 19636.2 crore. Thus, the unutilised portion of 7482.35 crore that the government was unable to spend in that year was only from the amount earmarked from new schemes — which comes to 38 percent. 38 percent is the figure to note, and not 20 percent as this data purports to depict.

Similarly in 2009-10, the committed liabilities were for 21248.98 crore and new schemes were budgeted for 19118.74 crore. Thus, the amount that the government was unable to spend in 2009-10 was 1940.72 crore out of 19118.74 crore — more than 10 percent. This happened despite a huge push to spend in the last few weeks of the financial year, as evident from the government’s own Revised Estimates prepared a few weeks before the end of the financial year. The Revised Estimates had envisaged that the government would be able to spend only 13897.9 crore, whereas they ended up actually spending 17178.02 crore due to this last-minute push. It is reflective of the systemic mess that engulfs the complete defence procurement process in this country.

The usual tendency is to blame the politico-bureaucratic lethargy for this mess. But it goes well beyond that simplistic explanation. And it begins with one simple question: Where are the defence economists in this country?

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The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan

Only 50% of supplies and 30% of petroleum supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan come via Pakistan.

In the hullabaloo over the recent closure of one of the transit points at Torkham for NATO supply lines into Afghanistan, it is pretty common for lazy established international news-agencies to throw up some wrong statistics in their reports. Two such erroneous data-points particularly stand out.  One, that nearly 80 percent of NATO supplies for Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. Two, nearly 100 percent of petroleum supplies for NATO forces also traverse through Pakistan. Both are not only wrong, but way off the mark.

Here it is, to put it proverbially, from the horse’s mouth — the September-October 2010 issue of Army Sustainment. Major General Kenneth S Dowd, who was the Director of Logistics at CENTCOM from June 2007 to June 2010 explains:

As June 2010, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command has booked over 50 percent of all sustainment heading to Afghanistan on the NDN [Northern Distribution Network, via Central Asia]and has delivered over 11,000 20-foot containers of cargo to Afghanistan through these new northern routes. …We hope to expand the categories of cargo permitted on the NDN and to retain and expand logistics hubs in Central Asia. [Page 6]

This means that only 50 percent of the logistics supplies to Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. More importantly, this has happened when the number of US troops in Afghanistan have increased substantially since 2009. Dowd also clarifies that “Our business rules call for all sensitive or classified cargo to be flown into Afghanistan on military or commercially contracted aircraft.” This means that the Pakistan route, officially called the PAK GLOC, does not transport any sensitive or classified cargo into Afghanistan.

As far as the petroleum supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan are concerned, the facts come from another article in the same journal by Colonel Jeffrey B Carra, who was the chief of the Joint Petroleum Office at CENTCOM, and Chief Warrant Officer David Ray:

Since 2002, CENTCOM and its strategic petroleum support partners (DESC since 2002, NATO since 2007) have increased fuel storage capacity in Afghanistan from roughly 100,000 gallons to more than 30 million gallons (with up to 12 million of those gallons in contracted commercial steel-tank facilities) to meet a demand that has grown from 40,000 gallons per day in 2002 to more than 1.1 million gallons per day in 2009.

Starting in 2007, CENTCOM partnered with DESC to shift most petroleum sustainment in Afghanistan away from the Southern GLOC, which enters Afghanistan from Pakistan, to what is known as the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which enters from the Central Asian States. This change increased the amount of petroleum entering by the NDN from 30 percent to 70 percent of all petroleum sustainment. Coupled with the shift to the NDN, DESC had the forethought to initiate a contract provision with its petroleum suppliers to hold up to 9 million gallons of contractor-owned fuel (as a “commercial reserve”) within Afghanistan to mitigate any ebb and flow in regional fuel distribution.

DESC also increased its Government-owned “strategic reserve” in and around Kabul from 2 to 5 million gallons. The strategic reserve and the commercial reserve together provide a shock absorber capable of withstanding major disruptions to petroleum sustainment. [Page 18]

This means that only 30 percent of petroleum supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan come through Pakistan. However, it must be remembered that the logistics route via NDN costs nearly thrice the cost of using the logistics route via Pakistan. Also, it should not be forgotten that the other route from Pakistan into Afghanistan via Chaman is still open for transit.

Notwithstanding the fact that there is no way Pakistan army and GHQ can allow this Al Faida business of logistics supplies via Pakistan to stop, a correct picture of actual NATO supplies transiting through Pakistan would help everyone develop a clearer perspective on the situation.

Of course, it is another matter altogether that this may be the first war the US has fought, where it pays not only its own men, but the enemy as well.

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