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Cross-border smuggling making big hole in exchequer

Cross-border smuggling making big hole in exchequer

PESHAWAR: The rampant smuggling of auto parts and Nato forces equipment from Afghanistan into Pakistan has been going on unnoticed, depriving the national exchequer of huge revenue to the tune of billions of rupees.
Informed border areas goers and residents of Khyber Agency divulged to Customs Today that auto parts and others goods were being trafficked from Afghanistan through horses and donkeys via Terah valley, adding that the smugglers bribed the Customs officials at several points to make their way to main Bazaar Khyber Agency.
They informed that auto parts and engines of vehicles were being brought through Afghanistan border and were being sold overtly on a large scale in Landi Kotal. “It has been a routine practice that a full-fledged vehicle is prepared from these smuggled auto parts which later ply on roads in different cities,” they pointed out, adding that it had been going on in broad daylight despite the presence of some heavily-guarded security checkposts at the most sensitive of points of the country.
The residents, who requested not to be named, said that various kinds of auto parts, after repair in Khyber agency, were supplied to auto markets from where it was transported to other tribal areas and Malakand Division.
They expressed their surprise that it was not difficult to bring vehicles, assembled from smuggled auto parts, through Begiari checkpost on Peshawar-Tokham highway near Landi Kotal, especially for those having contacts in the custom authorities and other intelligence agencies, adding that it was an easy job to cross through even a non-custom paid vehicle.
It is to be noted that the Customs Today is in possession of a video footage, showing convoy of horses carrying smuggled auto parts which lay bare the fact that what kind of auto parts are being smuggled into Pakistan to evade custom duty.
Similarly, massive presence of unregistered “indigenously manufactured” vehicles in various areas of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) has been going on unnoticed and unchecked.
Reliably sources privy to the development claimed that if the government took interest and decide to go against the menace, smuggling of various goods from Afghanistan through intricate routs of Tirah valley could be rooted out, adding that the seemed the government least bothered to rein in smuggling as the bureaucracy considered it a “lucrative business.”
This reporter attempted repeatedly to contact Custom Intelligence Director Asghar Khan to seek his comment on this important issue but to no avail as his official number remained unattended.
Meanwhile, a personal of the Customs police, seeking anonymity, told the Customs Today that the custom authorities did not attempt to stop trafficking of auto parts and other goods (intentionally). “When the authorities seized illegal equipment and auto parts, the criminals are heavily fined which ultimately generates revenue for FBR while the officials remained empty handed,” he elaborated.
Moreover from Pakistan side, livestock, rice, ghee, wheat, and fruits are being smuggled into Afghanistan. This sort of trafficking from Pakistani side is mostly done with the cooperation of the personnel of law enforcement agencies.
The traders have, time and again, taken up “the daylight smuggling” issue with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman and the Intelligence and Investigation Director General but nothing came out of it so far.
The most pathetic part of this “whole saga” is the rampant corruption in the customs despite the fact that the FBR has a full-fledged department (Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation) to monitor the customs’ officials and officers. The Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) department is also tasked with keeping a vigil on tax evaders, but ironically, the department is ‘notorious’ for aid and abetting the tax evaders.
Experts and economic analysts have stressed the need for the extermination of all warehouses established on Pakistan-Afghanistan border which facilitate and boost the menace of trafficking.
They suggested that only serious and wholehearted measures would help to eliminate the scourge of smuggling to flourish economy and generate more and more revenue for the national exchequer.