Windfall for Pakistan, to get first call on US military leftovers in Afghanistan - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 26 June 2013

Windfall for Pakistan, to get first call on US military leftovers in Afghanistan

Heavily dependent on Pakistan for a smooth withdrawal, US will give it $7 billion worth of leftover kit for a token payment

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 27th Jun 13

Along with the Taliban, Pakistan will be a massive gainer from America’s troop drawdown from Afghanistan by end-2014. A top-level US official, speaking off-the-record, has told Business Standard that Pakistan will get first call on all the American military equipment that costs too much to be transported back to the US.

Washington believes it is obligated to Islamabad for bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table at Qatar, for discussions aimed at reducing violence in Afghanistan, which would smoothen the American troop drawdown this year and the next. Furthermore, Washington relies on Pakistan for overland transit from Afghanistan to Karachi, where heavy equipment is loaded onto cargo vessels bound for the US.

Uzbekistan, which also provides transit routes to the US, had earlier sought to buy the surplus US equipment in Afghanistan. But routing through Uzbekistan, and then over a road and rail network in Central Asia and Russia called the Northern Distribution Network, is 4-5 times more expensive and time consuming than transiting through Pakistan. Washington has now decided conclusively in favour of Pakistan.

An earlier report in The Washington Post had estimated that the US military would leave behind some $7 billion worth of defence equipment, one-fifth of what is deployed in Afghanistan. US military officials tell Business Standard that aircraft, heavy weapons, vehicles and equipment are likely to be repatriated to the US. Much of what Pakistan will benefit from will be ammunition, vehicles, construction material, air-conditioners, etc.

Much more could be left behind if the situation deteriorates; Taliban resistance would determine what could feasibly be transported. Sceptics in New Delhi point out that Pakistan controls the spigot of violence.

It has not been revealed how much Pakistan would pay for the equipment left behind, but US officials say it would be a fraction of the real value. Given that the US is paying billions of dollars each year to build up the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP), it remains unclear why Washington has not given Kabul the first call on the surplus equipment being left behind.

The cost of repatriation, says Bloomberg News, could be about $7 billion. Danish container giant, Moeller-Maersk A/S, Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines, and German company, Hapag-Lloyd AG will ship out some 22,000 container-loads of equipment, says US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Logistics, Alan Estevez.

Much of that business would go to Pakistani truck operators in Peshawar and Quetta. Equipment in northern Afghanistan would be transported over the Khyber Pass, through Peshawar to Karachi; while equipment in the south of Afghanistan would cross the Bolan Pass, and then be taken through Quetta to Karachi.

Islamabad has effectively demonstrated to Washington its reliance on Pakistani goodwill. After a US air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a border post in Nov 2011, Islamabad shut down transit routes till July 2012, forcing the Pentagon into costly dependence on the Northern Distribution Network.

Over the years, Washington has provided Islamabad an approximate $2.5 billion annually in military aid. About half of that is Coalition Support Funds, which reimburses the Pakistan military for counter insurgency operations in the tribal areas along the Afghanistan border. Over the last decade, US media reports have extensively documented that the Pakistan military has been submitting inflated expense reports to claim more money.


  1. US is again digging their own graves. The stinger missiles left by the US in 90's to the mujahideens fell in the hands of taliban & ISI which became a headache in afghanistan war. The same mistake is again repeated. No doubt its a bad news for India but also these US made arms will be used to kill other americans.

  2. to anonymous above. the americans do not care about their own people being killed. americans only care about the pursuit of the dollar, oil, or hegemony. those that run the american machine will ruthlessly use anyone, that includes their own young men and women soldiers. they do not care who dies to keep this machine fed with oil and dollars. people must open their eyes, wake up and appreciate how greedy and ruthless these people are.

  3. India should start bringing Iranians into the Afghanistan spectrum.. We can effectively act as a mediator between Iran and the west and thereby brokering a solution for the Iranian Nuclear program... This If succesfull in bringing the Iran and west onto negotiating tables and thereby winning concessions for buying Iranian oil (from both west and Iran) and also to persuade the Nato to use the chabahar port as the exit route. this will help India to effectively bring the south western, western and the northern Afghanistan into its sphere of influence and thereby encircling Pakistan.

    We should use all means of diplomacy to prevent the American equipment from falling into the Pakistani hand and let them be taken by the Afghan armed forces.

    The benefits for us is to import oil at cheaper price, first preference in the Afghan mineral resource exploitation, A new role in safeguarding the peace in middle east, increased prospectus for a permanent UNSC seat, Effective marginalization of the Pakistan, New allies in Iran and Afghanistan, Increased influence in the Persian gulf and thereby keeping a tab on the Saudi adventures in the AfPAk region, Bringing the East and western parts of the northern Indian ocean into our Sphere of influence, Avoiding a future destabilizing war in the Iran...

    Hope our MEA has the necessary brain to handle this enormous task...

  4. The Great Begging Bowl gets more to fill...........nothing nontraditional.

  5. Most of the time, Indians are idiots at best, thinks the world revolves around us and we are the number one in thinking we are number one. In reality, no one is going give a rat's a$$ about what India/Indians think. If we can not take care of ourselves, we can not expect others to take the hit for us. First fix the mortal enemy within. The corrupt fu$king govt is not good anything. Get rid of it first.

  6. the terminator27 June 2013 at 19:57

    Nirranaj Prabhu, you are spot on for thinking out of the box. Our government babus are only good to be put in the box and shipped out. They do not want to do anything that they feel might upset the status quo. Bumbling idiots!

  7. Well tell the americans we will airlift the equipment to india. Shouldn't be that hard to do.

    Plus if they don't do it then their bids to future weapon purchases will loose like MMRCA.

  8. Hi Ajai,

    Any comments on this article.

    Just looking for your point of view on that article. As it has a named source.

    Otherwise I see what you are saying.

  9. @ Anonymous 02:05

    Nobody takes Dana Rohrabacher seriously. He is rabidly anti-Pakistani and styles himself as a good friend of India (makes political sense, given his constituency, Long Beach, California).

    But he is a political gadfly and his letters go straight into dustbins. Last year, he presided over a Congress hearing that discussed "Carving out an independent Baluchistan" from Pakistan.

    Music to many Indian ears. But hardly the stuff of serious policy.

  10. Having stayed in the US for 6 years, I can say this much-if the equipment was commercially or strategically valuable/important, it would not have been left behind. This is equipment which would cost more to ship than their depreciated value. This would rule out tanks/trucks/APC's/Artillery/HMG'sLMG's/ etc.

    What remains are pre-fabricated structures, their fixtures and other sundry stuff.

  11. This is the old code of the Khybari. Thanks to air evacuation, the "Cut and Run" Americans may escape with their lives. The question for which Western Military Historians will never (conveniently) find answers are: 1) Who are the main lobbyists behind the bombing of civilians in Belgrade to create Islams first enclave in Europe? 2) Who are the main lobbyists behind setting Iraq on Iran? 3)Who are the main lobbyists behind not having a dog in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait? 4) Who are the main lobbyists behind deflecting the US to Iraq from Pakistan to reclaim Afghanistan and leave the "Coalition of the Willing bereft of wealth, honour and prestige"? 5) Are the lobbyists the same? 6) Which Anglo-American opinion and decision kaers had they purchased, for much and when?


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