The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government is in the process of forming its own Explosives Substances Act (ESA) in light of powers given to the provinces under the 18th Amendment.
The bill will either be passed from the current assembly or be promulgated through an ordinance since the draft has been sent to K-P Governor Engineer Shaukatullah Khan, said a senior official who attended the meeting at the Civil Secretariat on Wednesday.
In addition to the Home and Tribal Affairs Department, officials from law enforcement agencies, customs, excise and taxation and the Pakistan Army attended the meeting, which was chaired by the special secretary of the tribal affairs department, Alamgir Shah.
In order to curb the use of explosives, a policy will be formulated which will address concerns regarding the manufacture and purchase of fertilisers, its transportation and quantity and awarding permits among other things.
“Research officers from the agriculture department said the use of fertilisers is very limited in the country, but its production cannot be banned,” the official said. In response to a question over fertilisers being used in making bombs in Afghanistan, the official said that exports to Afghanistan have been banned. “However, we cannot check every trade container to see if they are carrying fertilisers,” he said.
“The members rejected the idea that fertilisers should be banned as they are being used in the production of explosives by militants,” said a security official who also attended the meeting. “There are high-quality military grade explosives available to the militants so there is no need for them to produce low quality explosives on their own. But such a move would be a blow to the agriculture sector and it was completely opposed.”
The meeting discussed in detail on how to regulate and monitor the manufacture and sale of substances used in explosives in a judicious manner to protect life and property without antagonising the business of stakeholders. Officials also discussed ways to encourage the use of urea in agriculture.
The meeting was told that the tribal affairs department was working on establishing a supervisory board to monitor the use of commercial explosives at district and tehsil level. The Agriculture and Revenue Department were asked to develop a mechanism to regulate the supply of chemical fertilisers to the farmers, register the deposit points of fertilisers and keep proper record.
At the meeting, commissioners were asked to identify the total land under cultivation in all districts. The need for conducting an awareness campaign to educate the masses was also stressed upon and the information department was assigned to carry out this job.
The concerned departments were directed to ensure that no dealer of explosive material transports, possesses or sells explosives in excess to the quantity specified in the license issued to them. “It was decided that the import, sales and purchase of dynamite should be strictly regulated and a proper digital record of the end users should be kept so as to stop its supply to militants,” said the security official.
The expertise of the bomb disposal squad was also taken to identify all components used in making a bomb. It was proposed that an explosive tracking system be introduced, search teams be deployed and arms permits be issued to those personnel who are trained. All departments were told to forward their proposals to the tribal affairs department so that a policy could be finalised.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2013.
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