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The Taliban has bombed a 100-foot-long bridge in Pakistan that served as the main supply route to Nato and US forces in Afghanistan. Just a day later, the Taliban torched 10 supply trucks which were returning to Pakistan.

On top of this,
Kyrgyzstan announced the closure of its US air base, the key military base in central Asia supplying US troops in Afghanistan.

Around 70 per cent of US supplies to Afghanistan currently travel through Pakistan but an increase in attacks has raised doubts about Pakistan's ability to protect the vital supply routes. 

Pakistan's military and police have little to no control in the border region: On Wednesday, the Taliban captured 29 Pakistani soldiers and policemen, then released them unharmed on the condition that they resign from their jobs.

With the destruction of their supply lines in Pakistan and the closure of their Kyrgyzstan base, the US is being forced to look for alternative routes.

Russia has agreed to allow its territory to be used by the US in order to send "non-lethal supplies" to its troops in Afghanistan, but this agreement has come at a price: the US had to promise that it would restrict Nato expansion in former Soviet bloc countries.

Another option would be Iran. The US has already expressed its need for Iran's assistance in defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan but what would be the cost of such an alliance?

Can the US really send 30,000 more troops to the land-locked Afghanistan without securing their supply routes? And what alternatives does the Obama administration have?

Joining Inside Story presenter Lauren Taylor is Mullah Abdulsalam Zaeef, a former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan; Marvin Weinbaum, a former Pakistan and Afghanistan analyst at the US state department and a former Obama campaign adviser on South Asia, and General Assad Durrani, a former director-general of the ISI.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Thursday, February 5, 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera