KARACHI: An alarming intelligence report by Inter Services Intelligences (ISI), has revealed a web of corruption intertwined with the illicit trade of fuel. This report, shared with the Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), meticulously identified Customs officers and officials allegedly complicit in fuel smuggling operations from Iran, stained by the acceptance of bribes.

Iranian diesel and petrol, it unveils, are being surreptitiously funneled on a massive scale into Baluchistan, an act facilitated by various civil government departments engaging in corrupt practices by accepting ‘bribee’ or hush money. The Customs Collectorate at Khuzdar, stationed at Gaddani and Hub, has purportedly established Khukherra Check Post and Lak Badooq Check Post, where a stranglehold is exerted on oil smugglers, extorting substantial sums ranging from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 5000 per vehicle. It may be mentioned here that no staff member of Customs Khuzdar mans Lak Badooq check post.

Multiple Customs officers and officials have been unmasked for their involvement in this network of clandestine activities, sparking a recommendation for a rigorous departmental inquiry. The inquiry aims to staunch this nefarious practice that tarnishes the credibility of esteemed institutions, advocating for the rationalization or abolition of redundant Check Posts.

Additionally, urgent measures to quell oil smuggling from the Gwadar coastal area and the border belt along Iran have been urged, emphasizing the need to curtail this unlawful trade.

Similar reports have reportedly been forwarded to General Headquarters (GHQ) regarding para military forces.

The Chief of Army Staff, General Asim Munir, has spearheaded an unprecedented anti-smuggling initiative, marking it as the most extensive campaign in Pakistan’s history. Notable cooperation between sensitive agencies, security and law enforcement bodies, as well as Customs, has yielded commendable results.

Addressing the porous borders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, the possibility of General Asim Munir establishing a border force accountable for curbing smuggling has been highlighted. The shortcomings in eliminating smuggling, as multiple agencies man their own check posts, have raised concerns, leading to the proposal for joint check posts.

However, the report underscores the challenge posed by the vested interests of politicians and elected representatives, casting doubts on the ability of democratically elected governments to effectively curb smuggling. The fear looms that once governance shifts, the momentum of the anti-smuggling efforts may dwindle.

The situation calls for urgent and coordinated action across multiple fronts, with a spotlight on eradicating corruption and smuggling, a task that demands relentless vigilance irrespective of political shifts and vested interests.