U.S.-Pakistan Flare-Up Threatens Troop Supply Route Some in Congress want to suspend U.S. aid to Pakistan. But U.S. military commanders are concerned about the potential effect on the war in Afghanistan. The primary route keeping about 140,000 NATO troops supplied with everything from bullets to Gatorade is through Pakistan.
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U.S.-Pakistan Flare-Up Threatens Troop Supply Route

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U.S.-Pakistan Flare-Up Threatens Troop Supply Route

U.S.-Pakistan Flare-Up Threatens Troop Supply Route

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

As NPR's Quil Lawrence tells us, U.S. forces in Afghanistan depend on supplies shipped by truck from Pakistan, and the trucks' access can depend on the state of relations between the U.S. and Pakistan.

QUIL LAWRENCE: Unidentified Man #2: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: Unidentified Man #3: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: Unidentified Man #4: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: Every worry that a Pakistani truck driver has translates into a concern for U.S. military planners.

ED DORMAN: It's always important for logisticians when they're supporting a war-fighting commander to not put all their eggs in one basket.

LAWRENCE: Brigadier General Ed Dorman says he's constantly assessing how to keep NATO forces inside Afghanistan supplied, not only through Pakistan, but also from Central Asia and into Afghanistan from the north. But Pakistan is the cheapest route by far, and that means Dorman keeps a close eye on current events, like the U.S. raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden last week.

DORMAN: You can't just focus on the beans and the bullets in the logistics lane, you have to be aware of what's going on, what kind of operations are occurring, so that you can sustain the fight.

LAWRENCE: Still, the preferred option is to have an open, cooperative relationship with Pakistan. That's according to American officials, but even more for Afghan officials, who will always have Pakistan as a neighbor, says Jaweed Ludin, Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister.

JAWEED LUDIN: No one knows that better than we do. Of course, they're important, and we realize that our relationship with Pakistan is going to remain a vital element in terms of restoring stability and peace to Afghanistan.

LAWRENCE: At the same time, Ludin says now that the fact of bin Laden's sanctuary in Pakistan is undeniable, he's hoping for a more honest discussion.

LUDIN: The one thing from our point of view that has to be addressed is the fact that there are safe sanctuaries that terrorists and Taliban enjoy outside Afghanistan, and until these sanctuaries are removed, there is no way you can even imagine victory.

LAWRENCE: Quil Lawrence, NPR News, Kabul.

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