Saturday, October 9

Torkham Gate-gate: Has Pakistani regime's latest scheme to extort American and European taxpayers backfired?

Torkham Gate checkpoint, Khyber Pass Pakistan side of border with Afghanistan

Saturday, October 9, Pakistan's The Nation, front page:
Govt may demand Rs60 billion from NATO as road network compensation

PESHAWAR – The government of Pakistan is considering demanding billions of rupees from NATO in terms of road network compensation pending for the last 7 years besides imposing tax on owners of containers used for supplies across the border.

TheNation learnt from reliable sources that government is seriously considering demanding Rs60 billion from NATO in terms of road network compensation for damaging roads it has been using for the last seven years for carrying supplies across Afghanistan.

The heavy trucks and containers carrying NATO supplies have badly damaged the Indus Highway and other roads used all these years. Many roads in FATA are also seriously damaged due to it. [...]
Thursday, October 7, India's DNA news agency
US rejects Pak demand, eyes Russian supply route


While rejecting Pakistan’s demand for payment of $600 million as compensation charges for using the country’s extensive road network to transport food and military supplies to Afghanistan, the high-ups of the US-led Nato/Isaf forces in Afghanistan have decided to open an alternate supply route to Afghanistan via Russia and central Asia, bypassing the ambush-prone main supply routes through Pakistan.

The decision is set to hurt Pakistan financially as it currently receives a huge reimbursement of economic and military assistance from the US for providing logistical facilities to Afghanistan.

The high command of the US-led allied forces stationed in Afghanistan had earlier warned Pakistan that its failure to prevent rising terrorist attacks targeting the Nato supply trucks travelling to Afghanistan could force them to abandon Pakistan as a key supply route for transportation.

Before Islamabad decided to suspend the Nato supplies last week in the wake of the allied forces’ incursions into the country’s tribal belt, almost 75% of the ammunition, vehicles, foodstuff and around 50% of fuel for the 1,40,000-strong international forces fighting against the Mullah Mohammad Omar-led Taliban militia in Afghanistan, were being transported via Pakistan.

Well informed diplomatic sources in Islamabad say the Centcom’s decision to choose an 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 at the country’s Torkham border with Afghanistan for a full week now.

The US-led allied forces had earlier apologised to the Pakistani authorities over their Thursday’s cross-border helicopters attack that killed three Pakistani soldiers and injured three others.

Reacting sharply, Pakistan blocked the main land route Khyber Pass at Torkhum for Nato convoys carrying supplies to Afghanistan.

However, the suspension of the supplies was not the only action taken by Pakistan as the decision makers in Rawalpindi further decided to claim $600 million from Nato forces as compensation charges for causing damage to Pakistan’s extensive road network while transporting food and military supplies to Afghanistan since 2002.

The Pakistani authorities had decided to bill the Americans while maintaining that the country is suffering a huge loss of around US $83 million annually due to Nato freight truckloads that have badly damaging the National Highways Network, for the last seven years.

They had further argued that the average damage caused by the Nato on main routes leading to Afghanistan, was 20% of the total expenditure incurred on the repair and maintenance of the road infrastructure by the national highway authority.
As to why The Nation didn't get the same memo that Amir Mir's sources got -- from what I've read about him Mir is a muckraking Pakistani journalist, author, and former editor of Lahore's The Independent who is very angry about the Talibanization of his country. From all that I'd assume he has good sources inside Pakistan's military and civilian regimes.

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