CJP takes suo mote: NAB should take Customs officers onboard corruption investigations

KARACHI: The Chief Justice of Pakistan has reportedly taken notice of corruption complaints in Pakistan Customs and ordered NAB to investigate the case. Chief Justice of Pakistan took notice of reports that large scale corruption was carried on by Customs officers including Chief Collector Appraisement South Abdul Rasheed Sheikh and Director General Customs Intelligence & Investigation Shaukat Ali.

Although NAB has been assigned to investigate the issue and submit a report, but Customs is a very technical department and the investigation agencies such as FIA and NAB do not have human resource familiar with the technicalities of the Customs, therefore it seems a tough task for these investigation agencies to unearth the scams.

In the last 4 years, some rogue elements in the outgoing government including a senator, an advisor and few others used Customs department for their vested interests. For this entire scam, Chairman FBR remained a dummy and did nothing; Member Customs Zahid Khokhar also remained a spineless officer while Chief Collector South Abdul Rasheed Sheikh and Director General Customs Intelligence Shaukat Ali were the main players in this scam.

According to the details of plan, DG Shaukat Ali destroyed the intelligence network through abrupt and abnormal transfers and postings within the Directorate General. A former Customs Intelligence & Investigation official Mushtaq Sarghana was actually calling the shots and managed transfers and postings of officers and officials. Intelligence officials instead of curbing smuggling escorted the consignments of smugglers to protect the goods from other agencies.

Sources said a commission should be formed headed by Customs Officers such as Agha Jawwad or Gul Rehman as these are competent and reputed officers to investigate the corruption carried on by the Directorate General of Customs Intelligence & Investigation. Moreover, Customs officers including Dr. Adnan, Mohammad Ashraf, Tahir Qureshi, Nasrullah Wazir, Irfan Javed, Farrukh Sajjad and Abdul Waheed Marwat should also be taken on board in the Commission. Two other officials including Inspector Hamid Habib and Syed Aamir Shabbir are said to have evidence regarding corruption and malpractice of Director General Shaukat Ali.

Similarly, in order to properly investigate the Green Channel scam run by Chief Collector Abdul Rasheed Sheikh, a Commission should be formed headed by a person like former Director General Reforms Mohammad Saleem, who has been a very competent officer. The commission should also include Shahnaz Maqbool, Wajid Ali, Yaseen Murtaza, Saeed Watto, Masood Ahmed and Falik Sher, Imran Rasool, Abeer Javed. Brother of Abdul Rasheed Sheikh Mansoor Sheikh owner of M/s E-Movers should also be investigated as he undertook large scale smuggling and replacement of transshipment cargo. The system audit of WeBOC by technically sound team of experts should also be conducted through this Commission.

Such Commissions can play an instrumental role in unearthing the wrongdoings and corruption carried on in a very organized manner and taking benefits of technicalities to cover the dirty business.

It may be mentioned here that companies who were not eligible for green channel facility were given green channel status and scrap consignments, commercial goods and miscellaneous goods were put in green channel, as earlier these were never cleared from green channel. Officers who detected the scam were moved to bad postings. Legal committees were barred from contesting cases resulting in loss to exchequer. Contravention reports against fraudulent importers were withdrawn to protect their profile.

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