Popular demonstrations blocking a land pass between Pakistan and Afghanistan could force the Defense Department to pay up to $1 billion more to move military equipment out of Afghanistan.
U.S. officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday that they aren’t aware of any steps taken by the Pakistani government to stop the protests near the Torkham border crossing, which paused all NATO military cargo shipments by the United States more than three weeks ago.
Pakistani officials noted that citizens have the right to protest, but U.S. officials said that flying the equipment out of Afghanistan will cost up to seven times more than sending it through Pakistan.
There is another land route out of Afghanistan through its northern border with Uzbekistan, but using it would add additional shipping complications, as well as increase in cost and shipping time.
The group is protesting the U.S. drone program. There have been 27 drone strikes in Pakistan so far this year, down from an all-time high of 117 in 2010.