October 06, 2011

Pakistan is major source of makeshift bombs in Afghanistan: report


WASHINGTON - While there has been some toning down of the U.S. rhetoric against Pakistan in public, the media is still at it full blast. A dispatch in ‘USA TODAY’ says Pakistan is the source of explosives in the vast majority of makeshift bombs insurgents in Afghanistan planted this summer to attack U.S. troops.

Citing unnamed U.S. military commanders, the newspaper said from June through August, U.S. troops detected or were hit by 5,088 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the most for any three-month period since the war began in 2001.

Those bombs killed 63 troops and wounded 1,234, it said, citing Defense Department records. More than 80% of the IEDs are homemade explosives using calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer produced in Pakistan, said Navy Capt. Douglas Borrebach, deputy director for resources and requirements at the Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organization. “The border is a sieve,” Borrebach was quoted as saying.
“You can do your checkpoints, but that’s not going to help stem the supply.”

The military is working with the State Department, other U.S. agencies and Pakistan’s government to prevent fertilizer from reaching the insurgents’ bomb factories. The US government, USA TODAY said, increasingly has been blaming Pakistan for failing to corral insurgents. Two weeks ago, Adm. Michael Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Haqqani terror network linked to attacks in
Afghanistan had ties to Pakistan’s spy agency.

A Senate bill includes funds to train border guards and customs officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It also supports agricultural extension programs that encourage Pakistani farmers to use alternative fertilizers.

US Senator Robert Casey met with top civilian and military leaders in Pakistan in August to urge them to stop the flow of bomb-making materials into Afghanistan. They promised to help, but did not reveal a sense of urgency, Casey said after the trip.

Choking off the source of fertilizer is critical, Borrebach said.

“How do we work with Pakistan to be able to reduce the amount of calcium ammonium nitrate coming across the border?” he said. “That’s the key to this.”

Not necessarily, said Seth Jones, an expert on Afghanistan at the RAND Corp. who has advised the special operations forces there. “You could bang your head against a wall for eternity trying to keep ammonium nitrate from crossing the border,” Jones said. The Taliban and other insurgent groups operate out of a border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, over which the Pakistani government has little

Beefing up local security forces in Afghanistan, he said, shows more promise in defeating the IED problem. He pointed to areas of Kandahar province where homegrown security forces, assisted by the U.S. troops, had made life better for local citizens. They, in turn, rejected insurgents, sided with the security forces and pointed out bomb caches. The IED problems subsided, he said.


1.2m tonnes of urea fertilizer imported
during last 9 months

Gwadar: 1.2m tonnes of urea fertilizer imported
during last 9 months

Gwadar: Over 1.214 million tonnes of urea fertilizer were imported from Gwadar Port from December 20, 2008 to September 30, 2009, Geo News reported Friday. According to shipping sources, the spell of importing urea fertilizer began on December 20, 2008 to operationalise the port on the insistence of Balochistan government and failure of Port of Singapore; at least 42 ships anchored at the Port in this meantime. According to sources, 1214,000 tonnes of urea fertilizer were imported from Gwadar Port; however, national exchequer is suffering loss in this connection.

The sources told the reason for the losses among others is heavy expenditures for transportation of the urea to Karachi. The shipping sources told the import further 6 lakhs tones of urea fertilizer would be started from the current month and completed in December, thus, the volume of import from December 2008 to December 2009 would outgrow 18 lakhs tonnes.


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