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After the routes were closed, trucking companies pulled almost all of their vehicles back to ports in Karachi to better protect them and getting from the port city to the Chaman crossing in Baluchistan province can take days. They must also be loaded with supplies and cleared through customs in Karachi, which can take time.

U.S. officials had expected the first trucks carrying NATO supplies to begin crossing into Afghanistan on Wednesday, but bureaucratic delays held that up.

Chaman is one of two crossings used by trucks carrying supplies to Afghanistan. The other, known as the Torkham crossing, is further north in the Khyber Pass, a high mountainous area far from waiting shipments. No crossing was expected there on Thursday.

The chairman of Port Qasim, Mohammad Shafi, said Thursday that more than 2,500 NATO containers and vehicles have been held at the facility since the blockade began.

Getting them back on the road will take time, he said, due to paperwork and customs clearance procedures.

“Once we do that, we will be able to let the supplies leave for Afghanistan,” he said. By late Thursday, only a handful of trucks had actually left Port Qasim, said Shafi, citing paperwork and customs clearances.

 

Associated Press writer Asif Shahzad in Islamabad contributed to this report.