Curb smuggling effectively

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AS the country is facing serious economic and financial strains, the Government is rightly adopting a multi-pronged strategy to put things right and most importantly plug the haemorrhages.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar chaired an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss current economic situation, which decided to launch a crackdown on those who are playing any role in facilitating multi-billion dollar smuggling from Pakistan into Afghanistan in the shape of illegal currency, wheat and urea, and all those items on which the Regulatory Duty is imposed by the government of Pakistan.

Misuse of the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) and rampant smuggling across the western border have always been the source of serious concern for Pakistan authorities but in the past a lenient view was taken of the situation in view of the extraordinary situation in Afghanistan.

However, at a time when Pakistan itself is badly affected by a drastic reduction in the foreign exchange reserves and the Government is facing difficulties to pay salaries and pensions, we cannot afford the luxury of closing our eyes to the free for all movement of people, goods and currency on our borders and sea lanes.

It is lamentable that the country is losing billions of dollars due to smuggling of goods and currency and that too when we are seeking financial resources from other countries.

This is a question mark on the existence, efficiency and performance of our anti-smuggling forces and they must be taken to task if they are unable to contribute their share at this difficult juncture.

The continuation of the menace of smuggling on the western border despite implementation of the much-talked-about and costly border management plan is also an issue that needs serious consideration by our planners and decision-makers.

What a pity that the government utilized hard-earned dollars on the import of wheat and gave subsidy on urea, but they were being smuggled into Afghanistan.

It is also an open secret that foreign currencies, especially dollars, are smuggled to Dubai on an almost daily basis besides smuggling worth billions of rupees on borders with Iran and India.

The Finance Minister has sought a robust and proactive roadmap against smuggling from the concerned departments and institutions and it is hoped it would be implemented in letter and spirit for the sake of financial stability.