KARACHI: Collector MCC Preventive Karachi Saquif Saeed has said that the Customs Act empowers Customs to conduct raid at any place including residential areas and markets.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, he said Customs has the authority to conduct raids on the basis of information regarding presence of smuggled goods and there is a due procedure in this regard.
He further informed that Customs has no obligation to inform any other law enforcement/security agency prior to its operations/raids; however other agencies are bound to assist Customs when requested.
Saquif Saeed informed that ASO MCC Preventive recovered 75 Falcons and Houbara Bustards from a residential building in DHA. He informed that information had been received that an organized cartel led by Rasheed Gabool and Aslam Gabool were keeping endangered birds, which would be illegally smuggled abroad.
Three teams were formed each led by Deputy Collector Muhammad Asim, Assistant Collector Adarsh Jawahiri and Assistant Collector Saifullah to raid three different places, however only two places were raided as the birds had been removed from the third place. Superintendents Iftikhar Hasan and Jamal Zia joined the raids. The value of the seized birds is around Rs200 million.
Saquif Saeed informed that after the raids and recovery of birds, Rasheed Gabool and Aslam Gabool gathered several people and created a law and order situation. The mob including armed persons resorted to stone pelting on Customs and the officials had fire in the air to disperse the mob.
He informed that Customs had all the rights to defend themselves against hostile elements and referred to several Customs officers and officials martyred in the line of duty by the smugglers.
He said Customs was making all efforts to curb smuggling, and they have all the support of the government.
FIR in this regard has been lodged and further investigation is under way.
It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan is signatory to various international conventions regarding protection of wildlife. The seized birds are protected under local law and under International Convention on Illegal Trade on Endangered Species (CITES).
Pakistan Customs has planned to release these birds to their natural habitat after completion of due legal formalities. The civil society will also be invited to participate in this rehabilitation exercise.