China has shown interest in the construction of two railway lines—-one in Pakistan via the Gilgit-Baltistan region and the other in Afghanistan. While the railway line through Gilgit-Baltistan, ultimately extending up to Gwadar on the Mekran coast, will meet the external trade requirements of Chinese-controlled Xinjiang and other regions of Western China, the proposed line in Afghanistan will meet the requirements of a copper mine which China is developing in the Aynak area in Afghanistan.
8. However, because of the alternate routes through the CARs being developed by them and their ability for air-lift from Bahrain, they are able to manage despite the increasing attacks on the convoys in Pakistani territory. When the US and other NATO forces start thinning down their presence in Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army (ANA) would not enjoy these benefits. The Pakistan Army and the Taliban acting in tandem would be able to choke the ANA by interfering with its logistic supplies. Even if the US plays a diminishing role in ground operations after July 2011, it cannot reduce its logistics role in support of the ANA. Otherwise, the ANA could collapse.
Although the Chahbahar port has been an Indian project for some time, the Iranian side has been notoriously lax in keeping to its end of the bargain.
The port is strategically important — serving as the entry point for India’s outreach into Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. For this purpose, India also spent a lot of money and human lives to build the Zaranj-Delaram road in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province, which was intended to link up with the Chahbahar port. But establishing those linkages turned out to be more difficult than India imagined. The political situation in Iran over the past year has scarcely helped.
Both sides need one another: The U.S. gives billions in military and other aid to Pakistan, and the U.S. and NATO use Pakistani roads to transport the majority of their non-lethal supplies to troops in Afghanistan.
That last is an odd statement; Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, informed the ISAF commanders just a few weeks ago that they were responsible for the safety of ISAF supply lines in Pakistan — yet Pakistan’s government continued to refuse to allow the ISAF to provide military escorts for the convoys.
It is sensible to try a strategy of persuasion and rewards first before resorting to pressure and coercion. However, Pakistan’s closure of the Torkham crossing has revealed that the large buildup of U.S. and coalition forces inside Afghanistan has removed the option of applying pressure on Pakistan. Although the United States has negotiated with Russia to obtain an additional supply line into Afghanistan from the north, the tripling of U.S. forces in Afghanistan since Obama took office means that there is no escaping Pakistan’s strong leverage, amounting to a veto, over U.S. military operations.
– Robert Haddick (Small Wars Journal)