US withdraws military equipment through Pakistan

The US military has started to withdraw equipment from Afghanistan through Pakistan ahead of next year's deadline for combat troops to leave the war against the Taliban, an official said Monday.

Two convoys, each hauling 25 shipping containers, entered Pakistan at the Chaman and Torkham border crossings on Sunday as part of the US redeployment of equipment from Afghanistan, US Lieutenant Colonel Les Carroll told AFP.

"The passage of these convoys marks the first US shipments from Afghanistan through Pakistan since July 2012," Carroll said.

Pakistan in July temporarily stopped NATO convoys crossing the border after gunmen attacked NATO trucks, killing a driver, in the town of Jamrud on the outskirts of the main northwestern city Peshawar.

A customs official in the Pakistani border town of Jamrud said that Sunday's containers came from Bagram, the largest US-run air base in Afghanistan, and were trucked into Pakistan under tight security provided by paramilitary troops.

Islamabad imposed a seven-month blockade on NATO traffic passing overland to Afghanistan after US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26, 2011.

Pakistani-US relations have now largely recovered and the outgoing US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, and his successor, General Joseph Dunford, on Thursday held talks with Pakistani army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Kayani.

Hanif Khan Marwat, the president of the All Pakistan Goods Carriers Association, said the convoys were on their way to the port city of Karachi.

"The containers are carrying military equipment. This is the first time that such a big number of trucks are coming back to Karachi with Nato equipment," he said.