Pakistani Opposition Party to Start Blocking NATO Supplies to Afghanistan

JI to Announce Blockade Strategy on Thursday

by Jason Ditz, December 16, 2008

Over a week of attacks by Peshawar-area militants on NATO vehicles and supply containers was already having a noticeable impact on the ability to ship supplies across the Khyber Pass, through which three-quarters of supplies for the international military operation reach Afghanistan. And while NATO insists that “for the moment the supplies are passing,” one of Pakistan’s oldest political parties may soon put a stop to that.

Jamaat-e Islami (JI), a religious party that boycotted the most recent elections over then-President Musharraf’s State of Emergency, remains an influential opposition voice, particularly in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Flexing some of that authority, JI announced today that it intends to begin blocking NATO supplies on Thursday.

A long-time critic of American air-strikes into Pakistan, top JI leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed last month threatened to organize civilians to “create hurdles” against NATO supplies if the strikes continued. JI provincial president Sirajul Haq said that the strategy for blocking the supplies will be revealed at the end of a protest march already planned for Thursday.

Given the contentiousness of the US air strikes, JI is likely to find plenty of civilian recruits for creating hurdles along the route. If they are able to bring NATO shipments to a halt, they may wind up doing what seven years of insurgency have not, crippling the Afghan war effort.

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