NATO Explores Alternatives to Khyber Pass, No Good Options

After a series of major attacks on vehicles in Peshawar supply depots meant for international forces in Afghanistan, The Pakistani government’s seriousness about protecting the vital Khyber Pass route to Afghanistan, through which 75% of all supplies for the Afghanistan war effort pass, are in growing doubt. Yesterday’s attack, the third in just over 24 hours, hit a poorly guarded supply depot, and managed to destroy 150 vehicles without any of the watchmen on the scene seeing anything.

The danger on the route is leading NATO to explore other alternatives for supplying its forces in Afghanistan. Unfortunately for them, the dangerous and remote Khyber Pass has been an historically important trade and supply route for a reason, and few practical alternatives exist. One proposal would ship the supplies into Georgia, transport them by rail to Azerbaijan, across the Caspian Sea by boat, and then across Turkmenistan by road.

Russia provides another alternative route, and has already agreed to allow Spain and Germany to use their territory for supplies. But a land route across Europe and through Russia is long, inconvenient, and gives Russia another bargaining chip as relations with the alliance worsen. Given the growing need to import supplies as the United States and other NATO partners increase their commitments to the already seven year long war, the Khyber route seems unlikely to see a decline in use, no matter how many trucks are destroyed in the process.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.