QUETTA: In the early hours of June 5, 2024, a coordinated operation led by the Field Enforcement Unit Ziarat Cross, with support from the Intelligence Bureau Pishin, successfully thwarted an attempt to smuggle foreign-origin goods into Quetta. The raid, which took place at Ateeq Hotel, resulted in the interception of a truck suspected of carrying the illicit cargo.

Upon searching the vehicle, authorities discovered a significant quantity of smuggled goods. However, the driver managed to escape under the cover of darkness, and no individuals stepped forward to claim ownership of the goods. In the absence of any legal import documents, the enforcement staff seized the truck and its contents.

This incident marks the latest in a series of crackdowns by the Customs Quetta Enforcement team, which has lodged 15 FIRs over the past 15 days. Despite the lack of support from federal and provincial governments, the campaign against smuggling continues with unwavering determination. Key figures in this effort include Chief Collector Baluchistan Yaqoob Mako, affectionately dubbed ‘Danger Man,’ along with Collector Enforcement Tahir Qureshi, Additional Collector Yousaf Magsi, Assistant Collector Saleem Khokhar, and Inspector Nazir Kurd, all of whom have been instrumental in advancing the anti-smuggling initiative.

However, the campaign is currently hampered by a severe shortage of resources. The Customs Quetta department is allocated a mere Rs2.8 million for fuel to cover a vast area of 2600 KM, which constitutes less than 15% of the actual fuel costs. Previously supplemented by contributions from traders, the department now finds itself indebted to fuel stations, which have ceased providing fuel due to unpaid bills.

The scarcity of resources extends beyond fuel; there is no dedicated fund for paying informers, lawyers, or even for basic stationery. These financial constraints are not only impeding the anti-smuggling operations but are also cited as primary factors contributing to corruption within the department. To address these challenges and bolster the morale of the staff, experts argue for the establishment of sufficient dedicated funds and rewards for the Customs personnel, informers, and assisting agencies.

As the investigation into the recent seizure continues, the Customs Quetta Enforcement team remains committed to their mission, despite the odds stacked against them. The resolve of these officers serves as a testament to their dedication to curbing the illegal trade that threatens the economic fabric of the region.