In a move that reflect the further deterioration of relations between the two nations, the US today announced that they will freeze some $700 million in foreign aid to Pakistan to punish them for not more tightly regulating their domestic fertilizer industry.
Fertilizer manufacturing is a major business in Pakistan, but US officials contend that the various Afghan militant factions have been importing ammonium nitrate fertilizer for use in IED weapons.
The US has demanded repeated changes in policy among Pakistan’s factories, with the Pakarab Company’s Multan factory a major target. The company has already agreed to change the colors of the bags the fertilizer comes in, and is now working on ways to add dye to the fertilizer as well.
Yet what can possibly be done about its use as a weapon is unclear, as the largely agriculture-based Afghan economy is going to inevitably be importing massive amounts of fertilizer from Pakistan, Uzbekistan and other neighbors for the foreseeable future, and changing the color of the bags is at best going to give US officials more excuses to complain about Pakistan ‘fueling terrorism’ while it is simultaneously fueling agriculture.
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