FACTBOX-NATO supply routes into Afghanistan

KABUL Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:38pm IST

KABUL Nov 26 (Reuters) - NATO helicopters attacked a military checkpoint in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing up to 28 troops and prompting Pakistan to shut the vital supply route for NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistani officials said.

NATO supply trucks and fuel tankers bound for Afghanistan were halted at Jamrud town in the Khyber tribal region near the city of Peshawar hours after the raid, officials said.

Following are some facts about the Pakistani supply routes for NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan and the alternatives:


There are two routes into Afghanistan from Pakistan, one across the Khyber Pass to the Afghan border town of Torkham and on to Kabul. The other goes through Pakistan's Baluchistan province to the border town of Chaman and on to the southern Afghan city, and former Taliban stronghold, of Kandahar.

Between them these two routes account for just under one third of all cargo that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) ships into Afghanistan.

Just over one third of all cargo goes on routes dubbed the "northern distribution network" through Central Asia, and the Caucasus or Russia. The remaining 31 percent is flown in.

NATO declined to give details of how the shipments through Pakistan are divided between the two routes, but a spokesman said the figures likely change each month.

Some imported supplies for the fledgling Afghan armed forces, which the United States and its allies are building up, also come through the Pakistani routes.


As recently as July, the balance of supplies transiting through Pakistan and the northern distribution network were weighted in Pakistan's favour, with slightly more than half of ground-transported supplies arriving through Khyber or Chaman.

After a string of disruptions, NATO-led forces and the U.S. military decided to push supply networks away from reliance on Pakistan. The United States has gone even further than other nations in the alliance with a target that only 25 percent of ground cargo should arrive via Afghanistan's eastern neighbour.

This was done with the goal of "reducing reliance on any single line of communication to avoid any unnecessary vulnerabilities should that network become unavailable," according to an ISAF spokeswoman.

Two cross-border attacks by NATO aircraft in autumn 2010, that killed three Pakistan soldiers, closed one supply route through Pakistan for several days. NATO apologised for the incident, which it said happened when its gunships mistook warning shots by the Pakistani forces for a militant attack.

In April a rally on a key highway by thousands of people against drone strikes again closed the supply route briefly.

The routes through Pakistan, particularly the northern one, are also vulnerable to insurgent attacks. In May a bomb on a NATO fuel truck killed at least 16 people in the Khyber area.


The northern distribution network threads through either Russia or the Caucasus, across the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and then into northern Afghanistan.

It is largely used to bring commercial-type cargo -- described by ISAF as "sustainment items like food and spare parts" to troops serving in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan also has a border with Turkmenistan to the northwest, and Tajikistan to the north, and a sliver of remote mountainous territory connects with China in the far northeast -- but that is too remote and high-altitude to make a major transit route.

What would be a convenient and cheap link through Iran's port of Chabahar to western Afghanistan is ruled out by hostility between Tehran and Washington.

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Shares Hit Record

Sensex, Nifty rise to second consecutive record high

Sensex surges 500 points on BOJ easing, L&T gains

The BSE Sensex and Nifty surged to record highs for a second consecutive session on Friday after Bank of Japan's surprise expansion of its massive stimulus programme raised hopes for additional foreign inflows, boosting blue-chips such as Larsen & Toubro.  Full Article 


Wilful Negligence?

Wilful Negligence?

SEBI piles pressure on Sahara to sell overseas hotels  Full Article 

Indian Economy

Indian Economy

India's fiscal deficit in H1 almost 83 pct of full-year target.  Full Article 

M&M Earnings

M&M Earnings

M&M Q2 net profit down 4 percent, hit by poor monsoon.  Full Article 

Ban on E-Cigs?

Ban on E-Cigs?

Govt considers ban on e-cigarettes, sale of single smokes.  Full Article 



Silver futures in India hit four-year low on global cues.  Full Article 

BOJ Policy

BOJ Policy

BOJ shocks markets with surprise easing as inflation slows.  Full Article 

Shadow Banking

Shadow Banking

China's shadow banking sector growing rapidly, third largest in world - FSB.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage