Pashtun truck drivers from the north-west of the country began parking in the well-heeled streets, a short drive from Karachi’s port and oil terminal, in November 2011last year when Islamabad banned the transport of Nato supplies through its territory.
The border closure was retaliation for the accidental killing by US forces of 24 Pakistani soldiers. Although Pakistan had previously closed the border in shorter protests, no one had expected the ban to drag on for so long this time.
The drivers, many of whom are sinking into debt, are desperate to get back to work even though some of the big Pakistani fuel suppliers fear the once hugely lucrative Nato logistics business will never recover.
He was referring to alternative routes the US has developed in recent years that pass through Russia and the former Soviet republics on Afghanistan’s northern border.
Those routes, combined with some air freight, have allowed Nato to continue operations unimpeded. But the cost of keeping troops supplied has increased hugely in the last six months.
US military officials say it costs $17,000 to ship a container through the northern route, compared with $7,000 through Pakistan.
“It’s more expensive, but it’s more reliable,” said Afridi. “Nato knows the Pakistani government is not stable. They cannot guarantee the routes won’t close again even if they open them.”
One cousing is organising that fuel from the Russian/’Stans end and it’s my brother who is the bloke receiving the stuff when it arrives.
Odd how this global business stuff works really, innit?