Anti-smuggling initiative

1421

THE Government is reported to have approved a multi-pronged initiative that is expected to contribute effectively towards curbing the menace of smuggling, which is considered to be one of the major factors behind pathetic economic and financial conditions of the country. Under the Border Monitoring Initiative (BMI) a set of highly technically equipped battalions of paramilitary forces and customs would be raised besides upgrading border monitoring facilities.
Rampant smuggling of goods from Afghan and Iran borders has long been a serious concern for policy and decision-makers but no worthwhile measure was taken to address the challenge in a satisfactory manner. The worst aspect of the entire situation is that those entrusted with the task of checking cross-border smuggling themselves are allegedly involved in the dirty business. It is also widely believed that the facility of Afghan Transit Trade that Pakistan has extended to the land-locked Afghanistan is also being grossly misused as most of the items are smuggled back into Pakistan but Kabul is in no mood to cooperate to help check this economic bleeding. Similarly, illegal trade of billions of dollars is taking place across borders with India and China and our markets are flooded with smuggled goods of all sorts. In this backdrop, the BMI, if implemented in letter and spirit, has the potential to check the menace of smuggling in a comprehensive manner. The plan to procure double-cabin vehicles, coasters, motorbikes, high-tech weapons, bulletproof jackets, sniffer dogs and other resources from this year and through special allocations in FY20-21 federal budget is indicative of the seriousness of the authorities concerned but mere provision of facilities and modern gadgets would not produce the desired results until and unless administrative and disciplinary measures are in place to make all those accountable who instead of curbing smuggling become part of the illegal business for personal interests. Why the officials living beyond the known sources of income are not taken to task? Merit-based selection, proper screening and honest verification of antecedents can also help overcome the problem of corruption and inefficiency in anti-smuggling institutions. This aspect should be taken care of while raising and training new battalions and should also be applied to weed out the corrupt from agencies concerned.

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