WASHINGTON  - US will have to default and rely on India and Northern Distribution network if Pakistan does not open up its crucial Afghan supply route, a top Pentagon official told lawmakers on Thursday.

However, the Pentagon official testifying before a Congressional Sub-committee did not give details of the Indian network, on which it can depend for its crucial supplies to Afghanistan.

‘If we can’t negotiate the reopening of the PAK GLOC (Ground Lines of Communication) we have to default and rely on India and the Northern Distribution Network for our increased strategic airlift’, Marine Corps Lieutenant General Frank Panter, the Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics, told lawmakers.

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Both are expensive propositions and it increases the deployment or redeployment, Panter said in his testimony before the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

Islamabad has closed the NATO supply route after the November 26 cross-border fire that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. At the same time, the Pentagon official indicated that this (India) is a sensitive issue.

‘There’s always that sensitive issue about the nations. We’re dealing with the Indian network in itself. If for some reason there’s additional political strain related to these countries, that restricts the flow as well. Redeployment timelines, by not being able to use the PAK GLOC, will increase alongwith, as you mentioned, the cost as well’, he added.

‘Despite all these challenges, though, TRANSCOM and CENTCOM, they do have mitigation strategies in place. There are quite a few of them. But negotiations are ongoing, as you know, to reopen the PAK GLOC’, Panter said.

Army Lieutenant General Raymond Mason, Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics, said the Pak GLOC is critical and it has been closed since November.

‘The good news is, because of a lot of really great planning, our logistics situation is in very good shape. Fuel we watch very closely’, he said.

‘But back to the issue of retrograde out of Afghanistan. We’re getting it out by air, so as aircraft come in and we fill the aircraft as they depart, both Air Force aircraft as well as commercial aircraft so we’re using every available aircraft to go back out again’, Mason said.

‘The Northern Distribution Network, it’s three to four times more expensive because it’s three to four times lengthier. It’s very complicated a variety of different methods - rail, ferries, truck, so significant amount of changing and loading and unloading, so that adds to the cost as well’, he added.