Misuse of Transit Trade

ACCORDING to reports, the country suffered huge losses of over hundred billion rupees during the last two years due to misuse of Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) by unscrupulous elements and failure of authorities concerned to stop this financial haemorrhage. As per data attributed to Customs Department, 70% of the total good exported to Afghanistan under the ATT are smuggled back to Pakistan through various points duly guarded by law enforcement agencies.
Misuse of ATT is nothing new and successive governments made tall claims about measures aimed at preventing this form of smuggling but regrettably things stand today as they were before. The most worrisome aspect of entire episode is that smuggling is reported to be taking place from border points duly manned, which speaks volumes about efficiency of those who are supposed to check smuggling. The question arises why there is no check and accountability and that too at a time when there is greater awareness about revenue leakages and corruption. The problem is also not peculiar to Durand Line alone as there are also reports of rampant smuggling and corruption on borders with India and Iran as well. Iranian petrol is openly sold in Balochistan while hosiery and garments are found all over Pakistan. Similarly, Indian goods are also flooding our markets despite the fact that they are inferior in quality. And smuggling through seashores is also an open secret. There are reasons to believe that officials of different agencies posted at these points mint money and this is also clearly evident from their lifestyle and assets. Going back to ATT, what would happen if we allow India to do trade with Afghanistan through land route and also export to Central Asia? Most of the goods would again find their way back to Pakistan and the entire country would be turned into a big Bara Market. This cannot and should not be allowed to go on unchecked and steps must be taken to check this smuggling and misuse of ATT. Items that are not consumed in Afghanistan or those being imported in excess of legitimate requirements of that country must not be allowed to pass through Pakistan. Again, there is focus on border management but this should not be confined to cross border movement of people but also goods.

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