Eye brows raised as fire breaks out at Customs House

KARACHI: A fire broke out at the office of Deputy Collector Imran Rasoon at second floor of Customs House, Karachi on February 05, 2018; however the documentary record present in the office remained safe, sources at Customs Appraisement said.

Deputy Collector Imran Rasool is the officer who detected the Al-Hamd Container Terminal scam and then he along with Collector Shahnaz Maqbool were transferred.

MCC Appraisement West has lodged FIRs against certain importers and officials of Al-Hamd International Container Terminal (AICT) for conniving with each other to clear mobile phones, tablet PCs and batteries through mis-declaration in the bills of lading.

Imran Rasool’s office is at second floor of Customs House and it caught fire on February 05, 2018 – on holiday on account of Kashmir Day. It is interesting to note that only the room of Imran Rasool caught fire while adjacent rooms remained safe. Customs Appraisement sources said the record was safe.

Customs House Officer Amjad Khan reached the premises and took possession of a laptop, mobile phones samples, case files of Al-Hamd Container case for safe custody. It was known that representatives of sensitive agencies also reached the spot.

The customs house was off on February 05, 2018 with only security personnel present at the premises and yet the office caught fire, which raises the question whether it was a deliberate attempt to destroy some sort of documentary record. It also points out at the security loopholes.

Sources said that one sensitive agency was closely watching the affairs at Pakistan Customs Appraisement South and anti-smuggling establishment of Pakistan Customs. Sources said a report regarding fishy affairs at Green Channel facility and anti-smuggling of Customs Intelligence had been prepared and some critical developments are expected in the week.

Sources said the fire at just one room ahead of a rumored critical development at Pakistan Customs raised several eye brows.

An official said state of affairs at Customs Appraisement South were quite fishy as officers and officials who are detecting cases are being victimized and moved to bad postings. Recently, customs appraisement officers association held a strike against the verbal instructions of Chief Collector that examination should not be conducted and documents should not be called for clearance of imported consignments. It was known that loss to the tune of billions of rupees was being inflicted on the national exchequer because of the abuse of green channel facility and the culprits were patronized.

Similarly, affairs at Customs Intelligence & Investigation were quite questionable as well and organized smuggling was being patronized.

Sources said that Director General Customs Intelligence & Investigation Shaukat Ali had made several visits to Dubai and a copy of the Dubai visa suggests, Shaukat Ali declared himself a business person to obtain visa. An official said it was in violation of rules and laws as government officers needed NOC from the government to travel abroad and they could not declare themselves as business persons.

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