Severe congestion at Karachi port amid Pak-US row

Around 4,000 military vehicles and 1,732 containers were waiting for clearance at the port.

Last Updated: Jan 03, 2012, 00:00 AM IST

Karachi: Pakistani authorities are faced with
the problem of severe congestion as containers and vessels
carrying military hardware and heavy vehicles for the US-led
NATO troops in Afghanistan have been held up at the Karachi
port following a diplomatic row between Washington and
Islamabad.

Port authorities said the situation worsened after a US
vessel "Freedom" berthed at the port on Saturday, carrying 300
heavy military vehicles and 132 containers.

Another two ships with NATO supplies, including reefer
containers with refrigeration system, are due in a few days.

Pakistani authorities here have sought advice of the government due to the severe congestion.

"Before the blockade the port used to function round the
clock because of supplies to the US and Nato forces in
Afghanistan had to be moved quickly. But now the situation is
bad because the congestion is beyond our control," one senior
official said.

The containers and vessels carrying military hardware and
heavy vehicles besides other goods have been held up at the
Karachi port with their consignments since the government
closed the Afghan border for Nato and US supplies.

The government decision was in retaliation to the
November 26 US airstrikes in the Mohmand tribal area in which
24 Pakistani soldiers were killed.

Since then relations between Islamabad and Washington
have been tense and plunged.

The manifest of the ‘Freedom’ declares the cargo as
goods in transit to Afghanistan and the importer is the US
military and the consignor, Surface Deployment and Command.

The vessel is loaded with Humvee vehicles widely used by
US forces in the Afghan war.

"Since the blockade happened we have had atleast three
big US vessels berthed, one of them had brought in around
1,200 US military vehicles," the official said.

Few days back, the paramilitary rangers also seized two
containers carrying military hardware in the city and have
docked them at a warehouse under their control.

The port official said according to a rough estimate
around 4,000 military vehicles and 1,732 containers were
waiting for clearance at the port.

Shipping and terminal operators said the US had recently
ordered to re-manifest all its military cargo stranded at
Pakistani ports for exports.

PTI