Crackdown launched on smuggled diesel trade, which is the primary business activity in Baluchistan

KARACHI: MCC Quetta Preventive and MCC Hyderabad have launched a joint crackdown on illegal fuel stations dealing in smuggled Irani diesel and seized large quantity of smuggled commodity in Baluchistan province, which borders Iran. This operation is actually aimed to eliminate the primary business activity in the most deprived region of the Pakistan.

The operation is initiated on the directives of Chief Collector Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Chaudry. Accordingly, Collector Preventive Quetta Dr. Iftikhar divided the jurisdiction in two zones, whereas Deputy Collector Asim Rehman is heading zone-I, Deputy Collector Abdul Qudoos is heading Zone-II. Additional Collector Preventive Quetta Jameel Baloch is monitoring the operation.[the_ad id=”31605″]MCC Hyderabad Collector Khalid Jamali’s assigned team headed by Deputy Collector Kaleemullah is assisting the MCC Quetta Preventive. The crackdown is target the belt links Sohrab, Lakpas, Kolpur, Dera Murad Jamali. Irani Diesel is supplied to Punjab and Sindh from this route.

Customs is conducting the operation on its own as Police has provided in black and white that Baluchistan Police cannot help Customs due to shortage of manpower. Levies and FC have also excused due to their reasons. FC is also engaged due to the prevailing law and order situation.

An official said the smugglers were quite influential and powerful in the regions as smuggling is the only source of income in the area. Since the almost entire population is involved in smuggling, Police is completely ignoring this activity and does not assist the Customs authorities. It is alleged that Police is partnering the smugglers for a fair share. Other security institutions are also alleged to be in similar arrangements.

An official said that apart from no cooperation, the law enforcement and security agencies have now threaten to lodge FIRs against Customs for arresting the smugglers and seizing the smuggled commodity, as such activities create a law and order situation, which is not surprising since almost entire population is involved in this ‘occupation’. One of the smugglers, whose goods were seized by Customs, even lodged a complaint with the police against Customs officials. The security agencies in the area discourage Customs from taking action against smuggling i.e. doing their job.

Moreover, certain oil marketing companies (OMCs) are also taking advantage of the situation. Customs authorities have found that certain OMCs are providing documentation to cover the illegal trade. Based on the documents and invoices officially issued by OMCs, the smugglers often hoodwink the Customs officials at check posts.

There is a dire need to create employment opportunities in entire Baluchistan for the benefit of local people. The government must extend all support and assistance to industrial development particularly small and medium size enterprises (SMEs).

Smuggling, transporting smuggled goods and trading smuggled goods is the primary rather only business in the area. Therefore, restricting this business activity without creating other legitimate opportunities would result in a chaos and a security nightmare. There are no authentic figures, but Customs officials estimate this illegitimate trade particularly diesel runs into hundreds of billions a year.

Army is fencing the Iran border, which would be completed in two and smuggling would be limited to minimal. Within this two year time, sufficient job opportunities through SME development and industrialization must be created, otherwise the law and order situation could not be controlled.

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