Pakistani fertilizer being smuggled into Afghanistan for making homemade bombs: Report

Multan, Sept 1(ANI): A company in Pakistan produces huge quantities of calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which is the main ingredient in most of the homemade bombs that have killed hundreds of American troops in Afghanistan.

According to US officials, Pakarab Fertilizers Limited, one of Pakistan's largest companies, legally produced enough calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer for at least 140,000 bombs last year, which was then smuggled by militants and their suppliers across the porous border into southern and eastern Afghanistan, a foreign news agency reports.

The US military says that around 80 per cent of Afghan bombs are made with the fertilizer, which becomes a powerful explosive when mixed with fuel oil, while the rest are made from military-grade munitions like mines or shells, the report said.

Pakistani fertilizer producers are not permitted to export to Afghanistan since they are subsidised by the government and their products are meant for domestic use only, but the low price of fertilizer in Pakistan and its chronic shortage in Afghanistan has meant that smuggling has long been rife, said the report.

The chemical, known as CAN, is often trucked into southern Afghanistan repackaged as a harmless fertilizer, and at times it is also hidden under other goods, often after border guards have been paid a bribe, according to smugglers at the Chaman border and US officials.

Although the United States began talks a year and a half ago with Pakistani officials and Pakarab, the only producer of CAN in the country, there is still no regulation of distribution and sale of this fertilizer, the report added.

"If you have a host country that has a factory making a substance that ultimately becomes the problem, then that country has to contribute at least half the solution," the Dawn quoted Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who recently led a congressional delegation to Pakistan to press army and civilian leaders for action, as saying.

With the death toll from homemade bombs rising almost daily inside Afghanistan, continuing inaction by Pakistani authorities would add more strain to a US-Pakistan relationship already frayed by allegations that Islamabad is aiding Afghan insurgents on its side of the border, the report said. (ANI)