US may dump Pak for 'safer' Russian route for NATO supplies to Afghanistan

Lahore, Oct 6 (ANI): In a move that would hurt Pakistan in financial terms, the Centcom high command has decided to open an alternate supply route for NATO convoys carrying supplies to Afghanistan via Russia and central Asia, following the blockage of the main land route at Torkham on the Pak-Afghan border.ell informed diplomatic sources in Islamabad disclosed that the Centcom's decision to choose the alternate supply route to Afghanistan was prompted by Pakistan's refusal to give a timeline for the resumption of the NATO supplies, which remain suspended for a full week now, The News reported.

According to the sources, the alternate supply route starts in the Latvian port of Riga, the largest all-weather harbour on the Baltic Sea, where container ships offload their cargo onto Russian trains.

Earlier, Pakistan had blocked the key route for convoys carrying supplies for NATO in Afghanistan in retaliation against cross-border air strikes by the US-led allied forces, in one of which three Pakistani soldiers were killed.

However, the suspension of the ISAF and NATO supplies was not the only action taken by the Pakistani authorities. According to diplomatic sources, the decision makers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad further decided to claim 600 million dollars from the forces as compensation for causing damage to Pakistan's extensive road network, maintaining that the country was suffering a huge loss of around 83 million dollars annually, due to the ISAF and NATO freight truckloads badly damaging the national highways network for the last seven years.

Nevertheless, ignoring the Pakistan demand for payment of compensation, the Centcom high command decided to open an alternate supply route to Afghanistan via Russia and central Asia.

While previously Russia had only allowed the United States to ship non-lethal military supplies across its territory by train, it was actually in July 2010 that the Americans finally convinced the Russians to let them use the particular supply route, the paper said.

The move is seen as an important development in diplomatic circles, because it signals Russian willingness to indirectly support the US-led NATO/ISAF forces stationed in Afghanistan. (ANI)

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