By Shafqat Ali Khan Niazi, Additional Collector, MCC Preventive, Karachi
The Custom House Karachi was constructed in 1910. At the time of creation of Pakistan, the Custom House, Karachi was working under administrative control of Bombay Customs. The Collectorate of Customs (Preventive) was the first Customs Collectorate of Pakistan which was created after the independence. Since then the role of Customs as well as Customs Preventive has changed over the years. Like other countries Pakistan Customs’s role has metamorphosed from a revenue collecting agency to the more modern job of guardianship of the economic frontiers of the country; the protector of domestic market and society; protection from illicit drugs and more importantly now, to be the first line of defense in combating terrorism and serious crimes.
Model Customs Collectorate of Preventive has stood up to the new challenges under the visionary leadership of Federal Board of Revenue and Custom House. It has not only aligned its own resources but has increased coordination with other Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) like Anti-Narcotics Force, Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, Pakistan Coast Guards, Pakistan Rangers, Sindh Police and Home Department, Government of Sindh. All these agencies have joined hands in combating crime including smuggling of illegal and contraband goods.
The Federal Government has entrusted Pakistan Coast Guards and MSA with Anti-smuggling powers recently to reinforce these efforts.
The phenomenon of using passenger buses for transportation of smuggled goods has been discouraged through effective and coordinated enforcement by Pakistan Customs and Sindh Rangers at the choke points. A number of operations have been conducted on RCD Highway at Mochko and Super Highway which resulted in seizure of large quantity of smuggled goods. Major entry points of Karachi are being closely monitored by Pakistan Customs in assistance with other LEAs at Mochko, RCD Highway, Toll Plaza, Super Highway and at Ghaggar Phattak at National Highway. This has resulted in significant decrease in smuggling of Irani oil and other goods into Karachi. Installation of high speed vehicle scanners has been planned at these points to strengthen these enforcements.
Checking in Pakistan Customs waters has been beefed up in cooperation with the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency and Pakistan Coast Guards. The operations of fishing launches are also being strictly monitored and Port Clearance Certificates are being issued by the Pakistan Customs after proper rummaging of the said launches. Strict vigilance in this regard is being ensured to thwart any attempt of smuggling of arms and ammunition, narcotics and other contraband items through fishing boats. The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency is checking all the fishing boats which are entering or leaving Karachi Fish Harbour in collaboration with Pakistan Customs.
In the changing environment, use of technology and data analysis is the key to combat organized crimes. Therefore, Port Control Units (PCU) equipped with modern tools and soft-wares have been established at Karachi Port and Port Muhammad Bin Qasim. The data analysis revealed certain astonishing phenomenon/trends. Actions are being taken accordingly which will go a long way in combating organized crimes being faced by the country.
Trained sniffer dogs have been the most effective and successful tool in interdiction of narcotics at ports and airports. These measures with the coordination of Anti-Narcotics Force will strength the efforts to interdict narcotics smuggling which has earned a bad name for the country internationally.
If the same momentum of enforcement continues, Pakistan Customs will be able to put the country back on the highway of prosperity.