Customs Quetta has intensified its crackdown on the illegal export of sugar and confiscated 20 trucks loaded with the commodity near the KPK and Baluchistan border. The sugar, valued at Rs700 million, was destined for foreign markets without proper authorization.
The Field Enforcement Unit Manikhawa intercepted a convoy of 15 trucks and found 8,206 parcels of sugar hidden inside them. The customs officials also impounded the vehicles involved in the smuggling. On the instructions of Chief Collector Abduyl Qadir Memon, Collector Quetta Irfan ur Rehman and Additional Collector Umar Shafique formed a team comprising Inspectors Bahsir Tabassum, Haris Bashir, Nadeem Tahir and sepoys conducted the operations.
According to customs sources, this was not an isolated incident. In July and August, Customs Baluchistan had seized 1,637 tons of sugar worth Rs1.0 billion from smugglers who were trying to take advantage of the high demand and prices of the commodity in international markets.
The country is facing a severe sugar crisis, as the stocks have dwindled and the prices have soared. There have been allegations that the sugar mafia, in collusion with the previous PDM government, manipulated the data and policies to allow exports despite the domestic shortage. The caretaker government has warned that Pakistan has barely enough sugar to meet its own consumption needs for the rest of the season.
The situation is worsened by the rampant smuggling of sugar to Afghanistan, which goes unpunished by the authorities. This creates frequent and acute shortages in, where people have to pay exorbitant rates for the essential item. The experts say that unless the government takes strict action against the sugar barons and their cronies, such crises will continue to plague the country.