Securing the Khyber Pass: Who Pays?

Promised Khyber Security Comes at a High Price And No One Wants to Pay

by Jason Ditz, December 21, 2008

It has been over a week since the Pakistani government promised to deploy its paramilitary Frontier Corps to protect supply trucks being delivered to NATO forces in Afghanistan. The attacks continue, but shipments have crawled to a virtual halt.

While all the sides agree that more protection is needed to secure goods being ferried across the pass (hundreds of trucks have been destroyed in recent weeks), they also all seem to agree that somebody else should pay for it. Pakistan’s cash-poor government is more than willing to dispatch the Frontier Corps, so long as the shipping companies pay for it. The shipping companies insist they only need the Frontier Corps in the first place because they can’t afford to hire proper security of their own.

The costs to the small subcontractors attempting to transport the goods are simply staggering. Most of them don’t own enough trucks of their own, and have to hire individual truck owners for the missions. Its dangerous work, and the association which most of those owner-drivers belong to went on strike last week. The ones still willing to go want more money, and the owners whose trucks have been destroyed by militants are still waiting to be compensated.

Getting the trucks running again is going to be expensive, but nobody seems willing to bear that expense. The impasse in Khyber is likely to only be a bigger issue in the future, as the US looks to double its Afghan force and will need even more supplies to support them.

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