PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa home department has directed agriculture department to strictly monitor and confiscate calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN)-based fertiliser keeping in view its possible use in terrorist activities.

The home department says, according to a document, that CAN-based fertiliser are conveniently used in explosives for targeting people and law enforcement agencies.

The document, a copy of which is available with Dawn, says that CAN-based fertiliser are the main component for manufacturing multiple types of mining explosives where it is mixed with fuel oil and detonated by an explosive charge.

“Potentially explosive nature of ammonium nitrate (and potential for its misuse) means that manufacturers, sellers and users of this compound need safety,” it says. It adds that there are alternate sources to replace ammonium nitrate for safe use in agriculture.

Document of home dept says it can be used in terrorist activities

A senior official, when asked, said that one could say that the sale of CAN-based fertiliser was banned in the province. He said that there was no licence-holder of the fertiliser in the province. “But since there is no ban on sale of CAN-based fertiliser in Sindh and Punjab provinces, it is smuggled to KP,” he added.

The document, issued from the home department on December 3, says that the use of CAN-based fertiliser massively in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the past also led to issuance of standard operating procedures (SPO) and a ban on its use in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

“Keeping in view the volatile law and order situation in the province, the government wants to make sure that CAN-based fertiliser don’t enter KP which, unfortunately is smuggled in the province from Sindh and Punjab,” a senior official told Dawn.

The document says that as per a statement before Senate Standing Committee, CAN is also banned in Balochistan. It adds that most ammonium nitrate explosions take place during its transportation or storage.

It says that the lessons learnt from ammonium nitrate explosions emphasises that it is critical to make fertiliser that could not explode easily.

The document says that there is only one manufacturer in the country which reportedly makes fertilisers without CAN, including urea and nitrogen-based fertiliser.

It says that agriculture department should request the relevant ministry in the federal government for a dialogue with a producer of CAN-based fertiliser in an effort to possibly convert it to non-ammonium nitrate based fertiliser.

The document says that agriculture department should request the federal ministry for a strict track and trace policy in Punjab and Sindh since its purchase is authorised there and from there it can slip into KP.

It adds that the agriculture staff at the joint checkposts is instructed for strict checking and confiscation of CAN-based fertiliser.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2023

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