KARACHI: In absolute contempt of Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has been directed to conduct inquiry into the issue of 262 trucks of sugar arriving under Afghan transit trade, which were stopped by Customs authorities for being unfit for human consumption.
A meeting of Pak-Afghan Parliamentarians Friendship Group opined that under the transit trade arrangements, Pakistan Customs should not have stopped the sugar consignments, which had arrived from India.
It may be mentioned here Director Transit Trade Zeba Azhar had stopped a consignment of sugar destined for Afghanistan under transit trade.
The sugar, arriving from India, was found unfit for human consumption. According to international best practices, all edibles if found unfit for human consumption are destroyed by the Customs authorities.
As the goods were stopped from transporting to Afghanistan, a case was lodged and Supreme Court of Pakistan reserved its judgment in the instant case.
Since the decision of the Court has not been made public, the issue is still subjudice. Despite this fact, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is forced to conduct an inquiry in this matter.
Sources said Afghan transit trade was a menace for Pakistan and the largest source of smuggling as goods imported by Afghan importers are smuggled into Pakistan under the patronage of Afghan Consulate in Pakistan and certain political leaders from KPK and Baluchistan.
Neighboring Iran also faced similar issue as Afghan importers were pilfering the transit goods during the transit and were also involved in big time smuggling. Iran has closed its Bandar Abbas and Chabahar Ports for Afghan transit trade. Only a selected items are allowed to pass from Irani ports and that too after strict scanning and examination.
However, under the pressure of certain parliamentarians, all checks are being removed on Afghan transit trade. Very recently, FBR ordered to stop stamping transit goods with the label “In transit for Afghanistan”, while the scanning of transit goods was also restricted to only 20 percent of the consignment.
An official said the stamping of transit goods with “In transit for Afghanistan’ was a deterrent against smuggling and several attempts of smuggling and pilfering transit goods in Pakistan were foiled due to these stamps.
The official said Customs authorities across the world were adopting cutting edge scanning techniques to avoid smuggling and import of contraband items, but FBR has ordered to restrict scanning putting the nation’s security at risk.
Afghan transit trade has been the biggest source of pilfering hazardous and banned goods in Pakistan, and the money made from this business funded terrorist and anti-social outfits.
The Committee of Pak-Afghan Parliamentarians Friendship Group – certain members of this committee have question marks over their conduct – has advised to initiate an inquiry to determine whether the act of Zeba Azhar of stopping unfit for human consumption sugar was with malafide intention or not.
A BS-21 officer Zulfiqar Chaudry is assigned to conduct the inquiry.
An official said competent and honest officers were being pressurized through unfounded complaints and inquiries, which would discourage other officers.