ISLAMABAD: A plan prepared by the interior ministry to stop smuggling of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser, to Afghanistan and impose restrictions on its sale within the country has created hopes for Pakistan to meet the US conditions for release of $700 million in aid.
Ammonium nitrate, when mixed with fuels, makes a powerful explosive. The US administration alleges that ammonium nitrate made in Pakistan is used in Afghanistan to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which are used against Nato troops.
President Barack Obama recently signed a law that linked curbs on smuggling of ammonium nitrate to Afghanistan with the release of $700 million aid. According to sources, export of the commodity to Afghanistan has been restricted and Frontier Constabulary and Rangers have been asked to ensure that ammonium nitrate arriving in the border region is used only as fertiliser and is not smuggled to Afghanistan. “They have been asked to keep a watch on a 50km area along the border,” an official said.
Officials said the Pak-Arab fertilizer factory and the distributors had been asked to maintain record of all transactions and that identity of the buyers should be verified.
The factory has to get no-objection certificates from the health ministry to supply ammonium nitrate crystals to anesthesia gas manufacturers.
“We appreciate all steps Pakistan is taking to curb this menace which is not only killing our soldiers in Afghanistan but Pakistanis also,” US embassy spokesperson Mark Stroh said.