May 30 - For Pakistani truck drivers, NATO route row is all about the money. Sophia Soo reports.
Even with the dangers of being attacked by Taliban militants, these Pakistani drivers are eager to get back on the road. With the closure of cross-border routes, the truck drivers have been left without a job for six months now. The al Qaeda Taliban routinely open fire on fuel trucks headed to the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Malik Abdul recalled how the militants threatened him. (SOUNDBITE) (Urdu) TRUCK DRIVER, MALIK ABDUL RAOOF, SAYING: "They sometimes slash you with knives, or shoot at you to intimidate you. This is wrong. Please help us." Over 1,000 vehicles have been destroyed by militants or criminal gangs in the last ten years. Still, thousands of drivers want to get back to work, which pays up to $270 US dollars per round trip. Desperate for work, Mohammad Nawaz said he considers the money despicable, but he had no other options. (SOUNDBITE) (Urdu) TRUCK DRIVER, MOHAMMAD NAWAZ, SAYING: "If it injures Pakistan's dignity, or harms Pakistan in any way, that is the sort of money that we don't want. The United States is responsible for killing our soldiers. If those who have killed our soldiers are shot dead in front of our eyes; then they are most welcome. We are ready to go ahead with carrying NATO supplies. The drone attacks should also be stopped." The drivers hope that talks between the United States and Pakistan on reopening the routes, will soon produce a breakthrough. Sophia Soo, Reuters.