Afghan war not hurt by supply route woes: NATO

The roads through Pak are the logistical backbone of the war in Afghanistan.

Kabul: Pakistan`s closure of a key supply line for NATO troops in Afghanistan, and militant attacks on tankers plying second route have "not impeded" the military effort in Afghanistan, a NATO spokesman said on Thursday.

Brigadier-General Josef Blotz, spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said the alliance had built up reserves and developed alternative supply routes that allowed it to weather temporary disruptions.

The roads through Pakistan are the logistical backbone of the war in Afghanistan, but have been crippled since a series of cross-border incidents involving NATO-led forces stoked tensions.

"We have plenty of stocks and supplies within Afghanistan, just in case things like this happen. Secondly over the last couple of years we managed to diversify supply routes," Blotz said, adding that only a third of NATO fuel came via Pakistan.

"We also rely on the so called Northern distribution network and we are getting in dry goods, fuel and other essential military equipment through border crossing points with for example Uzbekistan, so there is no shortage, there is no danger for the execution of our operations."

Gunmen in Pakistan set fire to up to 40 supply trucks for NATO troops in Afghanistan on Wednesday, police said.

On the same day, the United States apologised to Pakistan for the killing of two Pakistani soldiers by US helicopters which crossed the border and mistook them for insurgents.

Blotz said he hoped a return to normal operations along both routes could be "closer" after that apology and the publication of a joint Pakistani-ISAF probe into the incident.

"We do expect that with the closure of the assessment...we are closer to a resolution of all the problems."

But he added that there could be similar problems in future if the insurgency raging along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan was not tamed.

"In order to prevent the repetition of problems we are seeing in these days, we need to energetically and in good coordination combat the common enemy, and this is the Taliban, this is the insurgency," he said.

The Afghan war enters its tenth year on Thursday, with the insurgency at the bloodiest since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban.

Surging violence and casualties are worrying for US President Barack Obama and his NATO allies as they come under growing pressure at home over the unpopular conflict.

More than 2,000 foreign troops have died since the start of the war, over half of those in the last two years alone.

Bureau Report

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