Pakistan needs to step up its efforts against terrorism and put a hold on cross-border weapons smuggling into Afghanistan, a top Pentagon official told lawmakers today. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ashton Cartor, told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing that ammonium nitrate used in explosives in Afghanistan is often traced back to Pakistan and this was a matter that needs to be addressed.
So was the fact that the US-led NATO forces needed to open alternate transport routes of supply for Afghanistan given the volatility of using the Pakistani border routes for crucial supplies. "Certainly as regards terrorism and as regards weapons crossing the border from Pakistan to Afghanistan, we need their help.
I mentioned that earlier with respect to ammonium nitrate, but it's across the board. They need to step up," Cartor said responding to a question from Senator Lindsay Graham. Graham asked: "Would it be in our national security interest to open up transportation routes in the north to get supplies and equipment into Afghanistan without having to send everything through Pakistan?" "It is, and we are," Carter responded. Graham said it was his understanding that the administration is negotiating with the Uzbekistan government to dramatically expand that supply capability and that some waivers would be needed from this committee to support the Uzbekistan security forces. Responding to another question, Carter said that the ammonium nitrate that originates in Pakistan as calcium ammonium nitrate fertiliser, then shows up as homemade explosives.
Carter said the Pentagon is procuring a large number of ballistic underwear as a protective gear for its personnel in Afghanistan. "We are procuring large quantities of ballistic underwear, several different variants of it, that offer differing levels of protection, both male and female. Obviously, this is a, you know, critically important effort. So we're sparing no effort in that regard," Carter said.
"We have a number of suppliers to make sure that we're not dependent upon any single supplier who might have a production interruption or something like that and people wouldn't get to have the protection," he said. "Other chemicals, potassium chlorate, which is a favourite of the enemy in the east as HME, is a favourite of the enemy in the south -- we have to go -- we have to attack this IED problem in every single possible way we can," he said. "You can't just wait for it to come and get you.
You have to go back into the supply chain. And part of that supply chain traces back into Pakistan, and we need to get back and get at that. I know that we've been working with Pakistan to that effect but really just in a preliminary way, and a lot more needs to be done," Carter said.