NATO, ISAF’s hazardous waste being dumped in Pakistan; FIR lodged against US Consulates’ authorized agent

KARACHI: Pakistan continues to suffer for being the front line state in the so called ‘war against terrorism’ as Pakistan Customs have found enough evidence that toxic waste and radioactive material used by NATO and ISAF forces in Afghanistan is being dumped in Pakistan.

Directorate General of Transit Trade has lodged FIR against the bonded carrier and the US Consulate authorized agent for the pilferage of acid batteries (hazmat waste) of ISAF reverse cargo into Pakistan.

It may be mentioned here that US has all the advance technology and monitoring system and they keep vigilance on the movement of their cargo. However, US authorities never reported any such incident so that it could be stopped; even they never reported any of such consignment went missing or pilfered.

Hazmat waste or hazardous waste is dangerous or potentially harmful to human health and the environment. It is a threat to public health or the environment and is deemed hazardous and is subject to a number of federal and state regulations regarding its use and disposal.

According to the deals of M/s Saryal Cargo channel & Customs Clearing Agent, Peshawar, an authorized representative of Consulate General of the United States of America, filed a goods Declaration (GD) at Directorate of Transit Trade Peshawar (Torkham) for a consignment consisting of ISAF reverse cargo declared to contain batteries wet filled with acid (hazmat waste) loaded on vehicle of ISAF for transit to Port Qasim for export to Germany.

As per the report on reverse of the GD the container has been inspected and seal verification has been made at Torkham. The carrier of the container from Torkham to Port Qasim is M/s. Port Connection Pvt. Customs Bonded Carrier.

The clearing agent M/s. Trade Link International as an authorized representative of US Consulate Karachi submitted five GDs including the above mentioned GD of ISAF reverse cargo transited from Torkham at the same time of ISAF to Port Qasim, for inspection of the containers and seal verification thereof.

However, during perusal and observation of the scanning images of the GDs, the images of the instant GD did not appear as per the declared description. As such the GD was endorsed for examination to confirm the actual description of the goods.

Physical examination of the container in the presence of authorized representative of ISAF as authorized by the US Consulate found shipper and custom seal as intact. However, the goods were found cement blocks and wooden pallets instead of declared description batteries.

The wooden pallets were placed on the blocks to conceal the same. The photographs taken at the time of examination show and confirm the wooden pallets and cement blocks instead of batteries. The blocks have concealed under the wooden pallets to conceal the actual description from the scanner.

The gate and doors of the container were checked and it was found that doors of the container were tempered confirming pilferage of goods during transit by the bonded carrier in connivance with vehicle driver and authorized agent of the US consulate.

It may be recalled that Government of Pakistan blocked transportation of NATO/ISAF reverse cargo consignments after attack on Pakistan Army Check Post in 2013. Afterwards, the transportation was restored, but the goods including radioactive waste containers that were blocked were dumped in Qila Abdullah, Balochistan. Sources said that other cargo that had become useless and rotten was also dumped in Balochistan. But, the US authorities never mentioned this incident.

The Bonded Carrier and the authorized agents have not fulfilled their responsibilities to carry/transit the cargo in safe and sound condition in terms of the Bonded Carrier Licensing Rules read with the Transit Authorization Permit (TAP) in which it is also stipulated to the effect that bonded carrier is responsible for safety and security of the cargo while in transit up to destination.

Sources said that there were so many containers of ISAF cargo that were cleared and if the scanning record at QICT is analyzed, the actual number of such containers can be ascertained. The quantum of goods including radioactive and hazardous waste dumped in Pakistan can also be known.

The persons noted in the FIR include Raza-ur-Rehman, Romail Ahmed Dar and Mali kali Asghar of M/s Port Connection (Pvt) Ltd; Muhammad Irfan, Muhammad Tahir and Khalil Niazi of M/s Trade Link International and M/s Saryal Cargo Channel & Customs Clearing Agency.

It was also learnt that high value cargo to be shipped to Port Qasim for onward export to other countries lands at warehouses in different cities of Afghanistan, where the cargo is removed and cement blocks are filled in the containers to match the waste. This stolen cargo is consumed in Afghanistan. This practice is also carried out in Pakistan also.

The Customs General Order (CGO) for the ISAF reverse cargo provides that the Preventive officer is responsible to physically verify the shipping seals, Customs seals to confirm that these are intact and no tempering has been done with the container. The incident suggests that the Preventive staff is not performing it duty and responsibility.

The CGO for the ISAF reverse cargo also provides that if the goods are found missing, stolen or removed due to any reason, penal action shall be taken against the concerned persons including the carrier, authorized agent and focal person (employee of the consulate) along with recovery of duty and taxes involved.

However, in the subject FIR the focal person has not been nominated as the accused.

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