It would seem that the Northern Distribution Network, the main supply line for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, is soon to become a two-way street.
Commercial logistics companies operating on the NDN are on standby to start moving non-lethal freight out of Afghanistan as soon as the end of this year, according to transport industry insiders.
The NDN -- a network of road, rail and air routes that traverses Central Asia states -- came into being in early 2009. It was developed as an alternative to a Pakistani supply line that had become increasingly vulnerable to ambushes. Despite higher transit costs, the NDN carries close to 75 percent of all non-military items bound for Afghanistan. In addition, more than 60 percent of Coalition Forces’ fuel needs are transited through Central Asia. Pakistan’s decision to close another supply route means that the NDN’s strategic importance is only going to grow in the coming months.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based journalist specializing Central Asian affairs.