PESHAWAR: Pakistan customs at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is facing difficulties in safeguarding economic borders due low number of manpower. The Model Customs Collectorate has only 900 staff members for whole of the province protecting three international border lines.
According to details, Peshawar Customs seized smuggled goods worth Rs 14.291 billion during 2018-19 which can further be increased if better management facilities are provided to customs staff. According to anti-smuggling cell, these seizures were carried out alone by Peshawar customs at Pak-Afghan Torkham border. Pakistan shares lengthy and arduous borders with Afghanistan and Iran where there is nominal presence of Customs officials and the border is mainly maintained by other law enforcement agencies (LEAs). Due to volatile law and order situation in the region it is very difficult for Pakistan Customs to operate freely and curb smuggling.
The enforcement problem is further complicated due to long stretches of borders where Pakistan Customs has no presence. Therefore, the FBR vide SRO 1090(1)/2010 dated 01.12.2010, had entrusted anti-smuggling powers of Customs to FC (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Fata) to carry out anti-smuggling operations within 20 kilometers of the international border. Both the Pak-Afghan & Pak-Iran borders are guarded by Frontier Corps KP (North & South), Federal/ Provincial Levies. Pakistan Customs is currently deployed along these borders only at notified customs-stations at Torkhum, Kharlachi (Kurram agency) and Ghulam Khan (North Waziristan) in KP.
Customs mostly focuses on processing of bilateral legal trade on these borders with very limited anti-smuggling enforcement activity due to insufficient resources. Due to inefficient operational strength of Pakistan Customs, most of the inland routes leading to Sindh and Punjab from KP are also poorly guarded. Recently Pakistan Customs prepared a proposal under Border Management Initiative (BMI) which includes enhancement of human resource as well as provision of equipment/logistics which has been approved by the Prime Minister. Once implemented, the BMI will give a tremendous boost to the anti-smuggling capabilities of Pakistan Customs at borders.
Despite limited resources, Pakistan Customs is the leading agency in curbing smuggling based on the number and quantity of seizure of various types of smuggled goods across Pakistan as evident. In order to effectively address the menace of smuggling including LED TVs and other electronic items, Pakistan Customs has enhanced its enforcement measures by adopting stern measures which resulted in seizure of various electronic items including LED TVs registering an increase of 40 percent during 2018-19 when compared with previous financial year.
The statistics of seizures of electronics items including LED TVs for the past ten years revealed that the Customs has seized goods worth Rs 66.14 million reflecting a growth of 150 percent. The ongoing momentum of countrywide enforcement operations against smuggling of goods including LED TVs is in full swing and no effort shall be spared to curb this menace.