QUETTA: A group of Baluchistan assembly members and ministers are planning to meet Prime Minister next week and ask him to provide relaxation to smugglers and to transfer Customs Enforcement Quetta officers who have been cracking down on illicit trade in the province.

The Chief Collector Baluchistan Muhammad Saleem and Collector Enforcement Quetta Irfan ur Rehman have completely stopped smuggling in the province with little assistance from FC and other law enforcement agencies. This has caused resentment among the smugglers and their political patrons who consider smuggling as a legitimate business and a lifeline for the people of the province.

The Finance Minister Baluchistan Engineer Zamrak Achakzai openly said that smuggling of all goods other than drugs, arms and human trafficking, was not smuggling but a business. He vowed that their government would not allow Customs to eradicate smuggling in the province, which is the only lifeline of people of the province.

Muhammad Saleem had issued a list of Customs officers/officials in contact with smugglers. Officials/officers posted on check posts for a very long time were also shuffled. Baluchistan assembly also pressurized to stop scanning of transit cargoes. Transit cargo is often replaced during the transit.

Customs is nearly helpless against the parliamentarians bent on promoting illicit trade1. Smuggling not only drains the economy but also poses a security threat as it can be used to introduce mischief in the country. The government needs to take serious measures to curb smuggling and ensure political stability for any investment to take place.