KARACHI: Pakistan Customs has recently detected a mega-scam, whereas US Army reverse cargo including power generating sets were being pilfered out of the cargo during their transit through Peshawar-Torkham to Karachi for onward shipment.
The investigations into the matter found involvement of several including M/s Al-Tajir & C0, M/s Bin-Qutub International, M/s Port Connection, M/s Venus Pakistan, M/s Hamza, M/s Qamar Trading Company and focal person of US Consulate to supervise the transit trade of US reverse Army cargo.
However, US Consulate has shown absolute disregard to the sovereignty of Pakistan Customs and despite service of several summons, the focal person of US consulate or a representative never appeared for a hearing.
Us Consulate has been served notices for three hearings, and now another notice for the 4th hearing has also been dispatched.
It may be mentioned here that Chaudry Javed Additional Collector Transit Trade had made the case regarding pilferage of US Army reverse cargo and its consumption in the country. Chaudry Javed was then transferred to Customs Adjudication-II.
The US Consulate was sent a notice by Customs Adjudication-II advising presence of their focal person at the Adjudication hearing. But, the Consulate objected that the Ajudication Collector was the same officer who made the case therefore his decision would be biased.
Later, the case was transferred to WAsif Ali Memon Customs Adjudication-I removing the Consulate’s objection. Despite of appearing at the hearing, the US Consulate approached Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they had the immunity and their focal person could not be adjudicated.
Moreover, the US authorities pressurized the authorities in Pakistan to amend Customs General Order CGO-10 and exclude the name of their focal person from the list of parties who would be responsible in case of any pilferage.
Customs is of the view that the consignments which had been pilfered were not diplomatic cargo hence the immunity was not in place. Moreover, the CGO-10 was framed with the consent of US Consulate and request to amend it was not justified.
It may be mentioned here that on the orders of Director Transit Trade Wajid Ali, 22 containers were examined at PICT and QICT. It was found that the containers were declared to contain power generators worth $3.3 million, however the same had been pilfered during transit.
The investigation carried out by Deputy Collector Shoib Raza and Appraising Officers Adnan Malik and Jam Akram found an interesting fact that these generators which were declared to be worth $3.3 million had been insured with M/s Louis Berger insurance company at a value of $4.3 million i.e. at an over estimated value of $1.0 million.
This investigation team led by Shoib Raza conducted quite swift investigations and even reached the culprits as well as the locations were identified where these stolen/pilfered generators were being kept. However, the then Director General Transit Trade removed Shoib Raza from the case due to unknown reasons.
Intelligence sources said these pilfered generators were installed at various projects of a country’s construction and housing tycoon.
It was known that the contractor of US Consulate who had administered insurance of the said cargo had offices in Pakistan, Dubai and India.
It is heartening to note that the Ministry of Defense has not succumbed to the diplomatic pressure and US Consulate is not being extended any favor.