Fight against smuggling

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In his address to provincial Chief Secretaries on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed anguish and indignation over the slow pace of implementation of federal government directives to effectively curb the menace of smuggling. He asked them to prepare a list of those government officials who are hand in glove with smugglers. In addition to federal and provincial government departments, which had the prevention of smuggling mandate, Federal Board of Revenue had notified anti-smuggling powers to Frontier Corps in Baluchistan and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa along with Provincial Police and Levy Force; Pakistan Rangers in Punjab and Sindh, and intelligence gathering agencies of the federal government till December 31, 2020. The scourge of smuggling is working as double edge sword. On the one hand it creates shortages of essential consumers’ goods and on the other it gives big damage to the local industry. In Khyber Pukhtunkhwa over 90 percent flour mills remain in shut down condition but their owners place a demand for acquiring wheat quota. The wholesale and retail market is largely dependent on supply from Punjab. Same is the case with sugar and other food items of daily consumption. Majority of flour mills are not the members of Flour Mills Association as in Punjab 240 mills are active members of the association out of 750 active flour mills. Apart from creating shortages of food commodities, the scourge of smuggling is causing colossal damage to local industry and trade. As per conservative estimates, smuggling of 11 goods caused a loss of $2.63 billion to the economy in the FY 2016. The tribal districts of former FATA and settled Districts of PATA in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and border districts of Baluchistan still serve as conduit for smuggling of goods into and out of the country. In the merged tribal districts merely the designations of administration officials have been changed. Levy and Khasadar force has been labeled as police. Administrative reforms are yet to come, along with the establishment of properly trained and professionally competent police force. Delay in adjudication process in smuggling cases is a routine matter. Legal frame work needs to be strengthened to avoid delay in the adjudication process of anti-smuggling cases.