Trucks carrying Nato supplies wait in line at the Pakistan-Afghan border area of Torkham. —File photo

ISLAMABAD: Heavy containers and oil tankers using Pakistan’s roads for carrying supplies to western forces in Afghanistan have badly damaged the highways.

Communications Minister Dr Arbab Alamgir Khan told Dawn on Wednesday that the National Highways Authority (NHA) had carried out a survey to assess the cost of the damage and, according to it, Nato and Isaf vehicles caused Rs15 billion worth of damage every year to national highways. The total damage over the past 10 years (2002 to 2011) has been calculated at Rs150 billion.

Dr Arbab said his ministry had written to the Foreign Office and the Planning Commission informing them about the damage and requesting them to take up the matter with Nato and Isaf authorities in Afghanistan.

He said roads and highways in Pakistan were not designed to bear such extensive load.

Heavy Nato containers and oil tankers weighing 60-70 tons use three main routes – Karachi-Kalat-Quetta-Chaman, Karachi-D.G. Khan-D.I. Khan-Kohat-Peshawar-Torkham and the Grand Trunk Road from Karachi to Lahore and Peshawar.

Nato vehicles also use the Motorway and enjoy the NHA security.

The three routes, according to the minister, are the main passages which were considered backbone of Pakistan’s economy.

About 80 per cent of commercial vehicles use these roads.

The minister pointed out that there was no written agreement allowing Nato to use Pakistan’s main roads and highways for large and heavy vehicles.

He said a policy was being made under which new terms and conditions would be signed with Nato for the use of Pakistan’s roads and highways.

A parliamentary committee has been tasked to review the matter, he added.

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