Despite repeated efforts by US, there has not been much co-operation from Pakistan on the issues of flow of fertilizers to neighboring Afghanistan that results in killing of US troops through improvised explosive devices (IEDs), a senior American official said.
"I will tell you that we've talked a lot about cooperation. We have not seen cooperation yet," lieutenant general Michael Barbero, director, joint IED defeat organization told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing on Thursday.
Barbero was responding to questions from lawmakers on co-operation from Pakistan on IEDs, which results in maximum American casualties in Afghanistan. "I've been to Pakistan twice and met with the military. We have a framework for cooperation on this area. We've pressed them hard. I think when they hear it from congressional delegations, the state department and DoD, it has an effect," he said.
"I share your concern. It is a priority for us, and this interagency task force we've put together with Treasury, Commerce, et cetera, is totally focused on this," he said in response to a question.
"We've proposed this. First step is dye, change the color. Right now it's this nondescript white it's easily repackaged, and we've see this as detergent and other materials. And if you have an illiterate border guard on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, it's hard to detect when it's been repackaged. The second thing is, for the fertilizer industry, they need to reformulate this," the general said.
Noting that the US is losing approximately five of its servicemen every week because of IEDs, lawmakers alleged that Pakistan is not even the interested in dealing with the US in making those markers available as ammonium nitrate crosses the border.
"In recent years, commercially produced calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer from Pakistan has become a primary component in the production of IEDs. Our efforts to find and track these materials have been like finding a needle in a haystack's.
"This development has allowed a continuing flow of IED materials into Afghanistan, despite our efforts to the contrary. It is frustrating to know the source and not - and yet not stop the flow of this deadly material," Congressman Norman Dicks said.
Barbero said in the past two years, IED events have increased 42%, from 9,300 events in 2009 to 16,000 events in 2011.
"This year, we're on track, for 2012, to meet or exceed the historic number of IED events we saw last year. As a matter of fact, this July 2012 we had the highest number of monthly IED events we've recorded," he said.
"Today, 87% of the IEDs employed against coalition forces are made with homemade explosives. And of those, 74% are derived from calcium ammonium nitrate, a common agricultural fertilizer that is ubiquitous in the area," Barbero added.