Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has suspended a deal to finance an in-state fertilizer plant to be built by a Pakistani conglomerate that the Pentagon has criticized for refusing to take steps to stop the flow of materials to makers of bombs that kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
News of Mr. Pence’s action followed a report Monday in The Washington Times that said Pakistan’s Fatima Group stood to benefit from the sale of $1.27 billion in tax-exempt municipal bonds in Indiana even as it rebuffed Pentagon efforts to save U.S. lives.
The governor “immediately ordered that the project be suspended pending further investigation,” said Pence spokeswoman Christina Denault. “Indiana is actively investigating in consultation with federal authorities/[Defense Department] the situation at this time.”
Ms. Denault said Mr. Pence was briefed on “new developments regarding Fatima Group” on Jan. 14 shortly after taking office.
The Times reported that ArmyLt. Gen. Michael Barbero, whose office oversees efforts to thwart homemade bombs in Afghanistan, had criticized Fatima in testimony before a Senate subcommittee in December.
Gen. Barbero said Fatima had refused to take simple steps to prevent its calcium ammonium nitrate — a fertilizing compound used by bomb-makers — from being smuggled to Taliban operatives in Afghanistan.
Homemade bombs — known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) — are the No. 1 killers of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Embassy in Washington this week provided The Times with a statement defending Fatima’s conduct and pledging cooperation.