US not doing enough to check Pak steps to curb IEDs

A GAO report recommended that US embassy in Pakistan be directed to enhance its counter-IED performance measures.

Updated: Jun 07, 2012, 11:15 AM IST

Washington: The US Government is not doing enough to effectively monitor the progress of steps taken by Pakistan to check smuggling of ingredients of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to Afghanistan, which have been significant cause of fatalities among American troops there, an official report said.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a report released, recommended that the Secretary of State direct the US embassy in Pakistan to enhance its counter-IED performance measures to cover the full range of US assisted efforts.

According to the report "State Should Enhance Its Performance Measures for Assessing Efforts in Pakistan to Counter Improvised Explosive Devices”, about 80 percent of the IEDs contain homemade explosives, primarily calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) fertilizer smuggled from Pakistan.

"US officials recognise the threat posed by the smuggling of CAN and other IED precursors from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and State and other agencies are assisting Pakistan`s government to counter this threat," it said.

According to the Department of Defence, about 16,500 IEDs were detonated or discovered being used against US forces in Afghanistan in 2011.

About 80 percent of the IEDs used in Afghanistan have homemade explosives as the main charge, and more than 80 percent of these are derived from CAN fertilizer produced in Pakistan.

Afghanistan outlawed CAN fertilizer in 2010.

According to the Defence Department, CAN is produced in Pakistan at two factories, each generating between 463,000 and 496,000 tons annually.

Pentagon estimates that as little as 240 tons of CAN - representing less than one-tenth of one percent of the total annual production capacity of these two factories were used to make IEDs in Afghanistan.

According to officials from the National Fertilizer Development Centre in Pakistan, less than 10 percent of the fertilizer used in Pakistan is CAN, but CAN is well suited for farmers in some areas, the report said.

GAO report cited several hindrances being posed by Pakistan for the US to take actions against IEDs in their country, this includes delay in issuing of visa to US officials and delay in letting custom clearance of US equipment.

For example, as of April 2012, of the 110 IED jammers that ODRP procured in 2009 for Pakistan at a cost of about USD22.8 million, 55 Jammers were still in Karachi awaiting release from Pakistani customs, and the remaining 55 jammers were being kept in storage in the US until the initial 55 were released.

"Pakistan`s ability to stem the flow of CAN and other IED precursors is a life and death issue for US and coalition troops in Afghanistan. Despite a broad range of US assisted efforts undertaken by Pakistan," the report said.