Drone protests freeze US supply lines in Pakistan

American and NATO supply trucks remain stranded along key supply routes along the Afghan-Pakistan border, after protesters blocked those routes in an attempt to end U.S. drone strikes in the country. 

Roughly 1,500 trucks, loaded down with equipment and supplies bound for U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan, have been stuck in the volatile northwest provinces of Pakistan for the past three days, due to the protests. 

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On Monday, Pakistani police attempted to break up the mob and allow the supply lines to begin flowing across the border, according to recent reports. 

However, fears of ambushes and attacks by armed groups in the region who back the protesters has prompted shipping firms to order their convoys to hold their positions along the border, until the security situation improves, CBS News reports

On Friday, Pentagon officials declined to comment on the supply line blockade in Pakistan. 

The protest is being led by local leaders in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which abuts the Afghan-Pakistan border. 

Those leaders voted to cut off the supply lines by Nov. 20 unless Islamabad and the United States can reach a deal to end armed American drone operations. 

The vote and subsequent protest came days after Hakimullah Mehsud, the reputed leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and five other Taliban members were killed in a U.S. drone strike inside Pakistan. 

Mehsud had been a high-value target of U.S. military and intelligence counterterrorism operations for the past decade, especially after taking the reins of the Pakistani faction, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, in 2009. 

But the drone strike has infuriated members of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government, which claims Mehsud was planning to participate in peace talks with Islamabad and Afghanistan prior to the attack.

The closures come at a critical time for the White House, as it pushes to have all American combat troops out of Afghanistan by next year. 

The supply lines running through Pakistan are critical to U.S. and allied commanders, who depend on those routes to facilitate the American withdrawal from the country next year. 

Washington is turning up the heat on Kabul to formally agree to a postwar plan that lays the groundwork for a U.S. presence in the country after the 2014 deadline. 

The postwar plan, known inside the Pentagon as the bilateral security agreement, was presented by Karzai to an assembly of the Afghanistan's most powerful tribal leaders, called the Loya Jirga, Thursday.

Reports claim the council is overwhelmingly leaning toward ratification of the plan, which would go into effect in January 2015 and last roughly a decade. 

However, Kabul retains the option to terminate the deal before it expires in 2024, according to the terms of the postwar pact. 

But a slew of last-minute demands by Karzai, including the release of all Afghan prisoners at the military prison in Guantánamo Bay and banning members of a U.S. postwar force from entering Afghan homes, has President Obama considering a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan next year. 

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