Black Markets

Reopened NATO Supply Line Thrills Black Marketeers

Pakistan's shadow operators thrive off of NATO transport

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The reopening of two key NATO supply routes last month not only eased the diplomatic tension between Pakistan and the United States, but benefited a third party as well: Pakistan's black-market businesses.

Pakistan's active black markets, which stretch from the southern port city of Karachi to northwestern Peshawar, and from the southwestern city of Quetta to the northern tribal belt, used to be flooded with US-made goods, from flak jackets to M-4 rifles, soda, and cigarettes. Then, a few months ago, the underground economy, which largely depends on the NATO supply trucks for supplies, dried up. The thousands of Pakistanis who depended on it for income and cheap supplies were hit hard.