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Chief Collector Faiz Ahmad wages war against smugglers: face masks stopped at AFUs

Chief Collector Faiz Ahmad wages war against smugglers: face masks stopped at AFUs

LAHORE: Newly-appointed Chief Collector Customs Enforcement Lahore Faiz Ahmad has tightened the noose around smugglers and accelerated anti-smuggling operation in Punjab to eradicate this menace from the region. Due to Covid-19, lots of importers are trying to ‘smuggle’ face masks like N95, KN95 to get benefit of the crisis situation but Mr Faiz Ahmad is fully committed to give a huge dent to these efforts in Central Region and airports of Punjab.
Most honest and competent Customs officer like Faiz Ahmad is determined to put his full efforts to catch the smugglers after such a commitment shown by Karachi AFU collector Irfan-ur Rehman Khan. Irfan-ur Rehman stopped all those face mask consignments of N95, KN95 which were being cleared without DRAP NOC. Now, upon taking office, Chief Collector Faiz Ahmad has directed the staff in the region at airports to enforce all preventive measures to halt smuggling of face masks especially from AFUs of the region. He has directed a seasoned officer of customs Nayyar Shafiq posted as Additional Collector AFU, Lahore to deal with smugglers with iron hands.
Due to strict orders by Mr Faiz Ahmad, the Central Region team foiled over a dozen of smuggling attempts in Punjab. Customs staff is fully active and working with full commitment under daring leadership of Mr Faiz Ahmad. In an anti-smuggling operation near Zahir Peer, Rahim Yar Khan, the Customs staff of MCC Multan intercepted two 10 wheeler trucks containing smuggled goods concealed beneath layers of coal. Customs staff with help of local police thwarted attempt of smugglers to block the trucks transportation. Customs staff challenged the armed smugglers and forced them to retreat, setting an example for the department. The trucks were successfully taken to Dryport Terminal Sadiqabad. The smuggled goods contained dried skimmed milk, cigarettes, tyres, betel nuts, panparag, thread and monosodium glutamate, with a total value of Rs 81 million. After lodging an FIR, customs staff has started efforts to catch the smugglers to break their network.
Mr Faiz Ahmad’s posting as Chief Collector Customs has given more confidence to customs staff who are now working with more vigour and striving hard to get rid of this menace of smuggling. Faiz Ahmad has vast experience of working at different key posts so he knew it better how to handle these smugglers of face masks who are using Coronavirus disaster for their benefit. Earlier Faiz Ahmad performed his duties as Director IPR Enforcement (Central), Lahore. He also worked as Collector Preventive Lahore where he adopted different measures and introduced strict policies to halt smuggling attempts and increase the revenue for the national exchequer. He also set up mobile phone registration system at Allama Iqbal International Airport. He increased number of facilitation counters at the airport in order to facilitate the passengers, carrying new mobile sets. He also directed to set up a registration counter at the Customs headquarters and the air freight unit at the airport. He also directed to appoint well educated and trained staff at the facilitation counters to deal with passengers. During his tenure at Lahore as Collector Preventive, he thwarted several attempts of smuggling of non-duty paid goods and destroyed many networks of smugglers who were operating from Peshawar and Quetta. Once his team impounded 34 non-duty paid vehicles and 26 others which were being used for transportation of smuggled goods. Under his supervision, Customs Preventive adopted a comprehensive policy to curb smuggling. Customs teams enhanced their vigilance and surveillance on main entry and exit points of Lahore. Customs Preventive also pursued the policy to get credible information through their reliable informers. Due to this policy, there was marginable decrease witnessed in smuggling attempts in the region.
Meanwhile, Faiz Ahmad said that Customs Preventive registered nine cases against smugglers during three years and seized huge quantity of non duty paid goods which include 4,000 kilogram of silk cloth, more than 5 kilogram of gold, huge quantity of non duty paid foreign origin cigarettes, 3800 kilogram of Indian origin Pan Prag, 6800 mobile phones, 1000 liters of non duty paid diesel. Faiz Ahmad said that Customs Preventive recruited many retired and experienced informers to break the network of smugglers. He adopted the policy of zero tolerance against smuggling mafia which proved very successful.
Meanwhile, Collector Irfan-ur-Rehman Khan, MCC of JIAP Karachi while keeping in line with his fearless attitude and adherence to law is said to proceed on procedures to confiscate all face mask consignments for not providing NOC for clearance. The Collector stopped many consignments of face masks including N95 and KN95 which were being cleared without NOC of DRAP (Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan). Some of the consignments belong to highly influential people backed by senior bureaucrats and politicians.
Sources said that AFU KHI Collector Irfan-ur-Rehman Khan may confiscate all face mask consignments for not providing DRAP NOC and other AFUs in the country including Lahore and Islamabad will also have to follow suit as law has to be implemented by Customs Department similarly at all sea and air ports of Pakistan. This action by Collector Irfan has sounded alarm bells to all the other collectorates of Pakistan that are clearing face masks without DRAP NOC. Sources further said that importers of these consignments were putting immense pressure on the Collector for clearance of their consignments and high-level government officials, ministers and senior political personalities also contacted him and tried to pressurise him to clear these consignments without NOC. The Collector is known to abide by the law and did not succumb to the pressure and stopped these consignments following set rules and regulations. He showed full commitment with his official duty without regard to any fear or favour.
On the other hand, importers, traders and customs agents are of the views that these face mask consignments should be cleared without the said NOC due to Covid-19 disaster situation. They are giving briefings to customs officials to convince them but sadly on the other hand they are putting illegal pressures and offering favours to the collectorate for this purpose. It remains to be seen whether the Collector Irfan ur Rehman can sustain the pressure further and confiscate the face masks not having DRAP NOC or if he is forced by influential quarters to give way to illegal practice.
Now, immediately upon taking charge of his office, Chief Collector Enforcement Central Region Faiz Ahmad has decided to wage a war against all smugglers including those of face masks like N95, KN95, others at AFUs. He has accelerated anti-smuggling operations in Punjab AFUs to eradicate this menace from the region. He is fully committed to give a huge dent to ‘smugglers’ of face masks who are active to take benefit of the crisis situation during Coronavirus pandemic.