PESHAWAR, Pakistan - - The main supply route for NATO troops in Afghanistan was temporarily closed on Sunday after thousands of people blocked a key highway in Pakistan to protest against U.S. drone strikes, officials said.
Pakistani cricket legend-turned politician Imran Khan addresses the crowd during a rally against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, Saturday, April 23, 2011, in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistan stopped NATO supplies from traveling to Afghanistan on Saturday as thousands of protesters rallied on the main road leading to the border, demanding U.S. Washington stop firing missiles inside the country. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, however, said the two-day blockade would have no impact on the alliance’s operations in Afghanistan.
“Coordination with Pakistani government officials has been conducted and we understand the government will maintain security,” an ISAF spokesman said. “There is no impact on ISAF sustainment.”
The routes through Pakistan bring in 40 percent of supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, according to the United States Transportation Command. Of the remainder, 40 percent come through Afghanistan’s neighbors in the north and 20 percent by air.
The call for blocking the supply line came from cricket-turn-politician Imran Khan after U.S. officials rejected Pakistan’s demand for sharp cuts in drone strikes in its tribal regions where al Qaeda and Taliban militants are based.