Clearance of 40 US Army containers blocked; pilferage suspected

KARACHI: Directorate of Transit Trade (ATT) has blocked the clearance of 40 containers containing steel matting of US military reverse cargo as there were discrepancies in weight measured at Quetta-Chaman and Karachi.

After these containers were blocked the same were subjected to physical examination. The containers were found to be stuffed with steel matting as declared, however, there were significant difference in weight found at the port of entry and the port of exit.

In all the containers, the weight found at Karachi was significantly lesser than that found at Quetta-Chamman, which suggests pilferage of something enroute. There are chances that the goods pilfered were undeclared.

The authorities have initiated the investigations and the clearing agent M/s Malik Brothers as well as the bonded carrier M/s DtoD Logistics have also been included in the investigations.

Meanwhile, the authorities wrote a letter to the US Consulate in Karachi to justify this discrepancy.

The US Consulate responded that the GD weights were arbitrarily determined by the US military in Afghanistan, which will not match with the actual weight found at port.

The US Consulate in a letter requested the Customs authorities to accept the recorded weight physically found at port.

Sources said that the vague response of US Consulate that the weight of consignment were arbitrarily determined by the US military left a big question mark as this leaves much room for manipulation and pilferage of consignments during transit.

It may be mentioned here that Customs has found several cases of pilferage of US Army, NATO/ISAF cargo in Pakistan and evidence suggests the involvement rather patronage by US Consulate of this illegal act.

Sources said the Intelligence & Investigation Customs has already sought approval of Federal Board of Revenue and Ministry of Finance so that focal person of US Consulate in Karachi could be nominated in the FIRs pertaining to pilferage of ISAF forces hazmat waste in Pakistan.

It is even more intriguing that after several cases of pilferage were detected and investigations progressed rapidly, the US Consulate approached Ministry of Defense seeking amendments in Customs General Order CGO-10, which was constituted with their involvement and consent.

CGO-10 fixes the responsibility of such pilferage or theft of Army, NATO/ISAF cargo and US Consulate sought that their focal person should be excluded from the list of responsible.

Now, the US Consulate is of the view that the difference between the declared weight of US military cargo and actual weight should be accepted.

After Wajid Ali assumed the office of Director Transit Trade, strict check was kept on the pilferage of US Army/ NATO/ISAF reverse cargo and a number of FIR’s were lodged against the culprits including authorized agents of the US Consulate in Karachi.

Deputy Director Shoib Raza pursued the case and it was his efforts that the entire network involved in the pilferage of reverse cargo was exposed.

Director General Transit Trade Javed Ghani was assigned this office by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the purpose and he is keeping personal vigilance over the ongoing investigations.

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