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Politics & Government

Casey Calls For More Pressure on Pakistan


Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are responsible for more than 60 percent of U.S. troops killed and wounded in Afghanistan, and Pennsylvania’s senior senator wants to help stem the flow of the raw materials used to make the bombs.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D) chaired a meeting of the Foreign Relations Committee’s Near-East, South and Central Asian Affairs Sub Committee this month where those who gave testimony called on the U.S. government to put more pressure on the Pakistan government to work harder to make sure calcium ammonium nitrate does not cross over into Afghanistan.

“A small amount of [calcium ammonium nitrate] fertilizer, and that’s exactly what it is, coming from Pakistani companies across the border into Afghanistan forms enough material to make thousands if not tens of thousands of roadside bombs,” said Casey.

About 70 percent of the homemade explosives are made with the chemical known as CAN.  Experts are concerned that American and coalition forces in Afghanistan will be more vulnerable to the deadly devices as the military draws down troops next year. 

Casey said Pakistan is vital to stopping the key components from making their way into Afghanistan.

"I see too many casualties at Walter Reed," Casey said of the military hospital that handles many of the wounded service members after they return home. "We need to see action."

The Treasury Department has imposed sanctions and the Commerce Department has added 150 names to the list of entities barred from doing business with the United States in an effort to put pressure on the government and the makers of CAN. 

“[Pakistan is] doing more now than they were a few years ago but not nearly enough, that’s about as plainly as I can say it,” said Casey who believes more pressure needs to be applied.  “If that means that some of our aid needs to be conditioned or even taken away because they are not helping us then that is something we need to consider.”

Casey said more hearings will be held on the issue in the future.