Hagel Urges Pakistan to Keep NATO Supply Route Open

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged Pakistan to keep NATO supply routes to Afghanistan flowing or it may risk losing some financial aid, reported Bloomberg’s Business Week. Pentagon Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woog confirmed that Hagel “raised the importance of keeping the ground supply routes out of Afghanistan open” during Dec. 9 meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister of Defense Khawaja Asif, Minister of Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif, National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, and other Pakistan officials in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Pakistan, according to a DOD statement. The Pentagon was forced to halt shipments on one of the main routes in and out of Afghanistan last week as hundreds of Pakistanis blocked parts of the route in Peshawar and other northwestern towns in protest of US drone strikes in the region. The Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which governs the northwestern area, said Hagel’s visit is proof the blockade, which began on Nov. 23, is successfully pressuring the US, reported Bloomberg, which cited information secretary Shireen Mazari. (See also Afghanistan in Retrograde from the September issue of Air Force Magazine)