Criminal negligence

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AT a time when the country was facing acute shortage of foreign exchange and rupee was sliding down, Chairman Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) Malik Bostan has revealed that the country has been facing the large-scale outflow of US dollars to neighbouring Afghanistan ever since assumption of power by Taliban last year.

Addressing a news conference, he pointed out that this eroded Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves, adding the exchange rate has been destroyed by smuggling and fake imports of dollars as well as Islamabad’s negligence towards the issue.

The details of what is happening to deprive Pakistan of its precious foreign exchange are alarming and raise legitimate questions about the criminal negligence of the government and its relevant institutions and agencies that are sleeping over an economic time bomb.

According to Malik Bostan, legally $15 million cross over to Afghanistan on a daily basis as the Government of Pakistan has allowed each person to take $1,000 per day.

One fails to understand the justification for giving permission for virtual smuggling of $1,000 per person per day to about 15,000 people who cross the border daily.

Similarly, two months back, Taliban ordered their citizens to convert all Pakistani rupee into dollar or other currencies and keeping more than 0.5 million PKR is considered as a crime/money laundering.

The Chairman ECAP also pointed out that for 42 years Afghans have been trading in PKR and they have hundreds of billions of Pak rupee but they are now buying dollars from Pakistan at any cost which means they will ultimately siphon off entire dollars from Pakistani markets.

Afghanistan faces global sanctions and, therefore, it is amassing dollars through different means to keep the country running but it should not be allowed to happen at the cost of Pakistan’s economic and financial interests.

What an irony that we spread begging bowls before the world for dollars just to allow their free for all smuggling to Afghanistan?

In the given situation, the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister should give serious consideration to the viewpoint of the ECAP and the suggestions offered by it to stabilize the situation.