In addition to announcing a massive military offensive in the Khyber Agency, the Pakistani government today proclaimed the Khyber Pass, the source of nearly three quarters of the supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, closed until further notice.
The military imposed a curfew in the area as tanks, helicopters and artillery poured in to the agency. At least five have already been killed in what is being described as a “giant operation” by Pakistani administrator Tariq Hayat. Hayat also assured that the forces will “start rounding up people if necessary.”
Supplies taken from the major city of Peshawar through the pass into Afghanistan have been under growing attack this month, with many of the trucks destroyed in parking compounds. Rising costs and striking drivers had already left the pass operating well below capacity.
After the announcement, US officials said they are looking at alternative routes. This is nothing new: NATO has been looking for alternative routes bypassing Pakistan for months now, but has determined that no practical options really existed to replace the route.