‘Security depts involved in smuggling’
By A Reporter
Friday, 22 Jan, 2010
ISLAMABAD: MNA Khwaja Asif of the PML-N has alleged that personnel of Frontier Constabulary and other security departments are involved in smuggling consumer goods from Afghanistan and Iran.
He said at a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance on Thursday that smuggling of goods from Afghanistan and Iran had become an organised business and even senior officers of the departments concerned were involved in it.
“I have seen that one local person is stationed permanently only to note down the movement of donkeys and trucks carrying smuggled items from Afghanistan,” he said.
Mr Asif said most of the tax-free imports made through the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) eventually landed in Pakistan.
He said he had also received information on organised and regular smuggling from Iran into Pakistan.
He called upon officials of the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) to take steps to curb smuggling.
The meeting observed that edible items, cosmetics and consumer electronic goods formed the bulk of items smuggled into the country.
Mr Asif said he had been informed by some businessmen that they had purchased consumer goods worth Rs5 million from Dubai and the consignments were delivered to their shops in Sialkot on payment of nominal charges.
“The supplies come through Iran in about three months,” he said, adding that it was a regular feature, especially in the cosmetics business.
The bureau’s officials said informal trade accounted to around $5 billion annually and caused tax losses of up to $2 billion.
FBR Strategic Planning Member Zafarul Majid said the size of informal economy in the country was almost equal to that of formal economy.
He said petroleum products were also smuggled from Iran in large quantities.
However, FBR officials said the dynamics of smuggling along the Iranian border was different.
“All the items of daily need, including food, are brought from Iran and there is no means of livelihood for the locals except for bringing goods from across the border and selling them in local markets,” Customs Member Munir Qureshi said.
He said goods were even imported through the ATT by Pakistani investors and traders with the help of their Afghan partners.
He said a rough terrain and insufficient anti-smuggling manpower were the main reasons for smuggling continuing to thrive along the western borders.