IHC directs MNFSR to submit detailed reply within a week

Saudi dates to last Ramazan at BBIA as ministry refuses to release fruit

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—Justice Athar Minallah of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed the food ministry official to submit reply within a week with regard to withholding of Saudi dates ordered by a Director of the International Islamic University (IIU) Abdullah Al-Afifi at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Ministry of National Food Security & Research has held the dates for weeks claiming the consignment lacked proper permission and bilingual quarantine certificate from the Saudi ministry.
Director of the IIU has moved the court against the MNFSR’s action. On Monday the court gave the direction and sought a detailed report. The Ministry keeps insisting there should be proper paper work or they would not allow the dates inside Pakistan.
It seems after the order of the court the 350-kg consignment of Saudi dates will remain at the airport till the end of the holy month of Ramazan and the purpose for which they were sent for would die down.
In the last hearing, the court had directed “appropriate action” be taken in the matter and had granted time the in-charge of the quarantine department, Shahid Abdullah, to seek instructions from the competent authority to resolve the issue.
When the case was taken up on Monday, Abdullah appeared before the court but could not provide satisfactory answers to the questions raised by the court. Subsequently, Justice Minallah ordered the DG to submit a reply within a week.
IIU Director Abdullah Al-Afifi had sought the IHC’s intervention after the consignment, imported from Saudi Arabia, was held at the airport because the required Saudi documents were in Arabic rather than bilingual — English and Arabic. The importer had instead attached a translation of the Arabic document. Justice Minallah had issued notice to the Ministry of National Food, Security & Research after Al-Afifi filed a petition seeking release of the consignment at the earliest. Al-Afifi claims that the consignment contains perishable items and was detained without any justification.
He maintained, through his counsel Rehanuddin Khan Golra, that the customs authorities had no objection to the shipment, but food ministry officials stopped the consignment and ordered that a quarantine certificate issued by the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture be produced.

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