LANDIKOTAL: Despite limited resources and ground hurdles, Pakistan Customs has achieved record seizures of various contraband items, including currency and gold, in Torkham over the past year.
Speaking to The News, Additional Collector Customs at Peshawar Syed Muhammad Zakir highlighted the department’s success in reshaping their strategies and search methodologies to detect smuggling of prohibited items in vehicles and passengers’ luggage.
During the fiscal year 2022-23, the Customs Enforcement Department in Torkham thwarted 50 currency smuggling cases valued at Rs61 million. Additionally, they seized gold worth Rs5.2 million and handled 36 other cases involving various contrabands, such as tyres, cigarettes, non-custom paid vehicles, and mobile phones, amounting to Rs60 million.
In total, the customs officials at Torkham made seizures totaling Rs126.6 million in currency, gold, and other contraband items within a year.
Zakir said that they had confiscated goods valued at Rs379.141 million, including gold and other contraband, at Bacha Khan International Airport in the past few months.
He said that beyond Torkham, Customs has also been active in Nowshera, Mardan, and Abbottabad, seizing non-custom paid goods worth Rs2121.74 million during the fiscal year 2022-23.
Zakir sought the provision of modern high-tech detection equipment and facilities for customs staff at Torkham to enhance their efficiency .
Regarding the construction of the Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) at Torkham terminal, the official said the project was in its final phases. Although the expected completion date was December 2023, certain factors might cause delays.
He urged the authorities to expedite the work, as an early completion could resolve several issues and bolster trade with Afghanistan, which would ultimately increase revenue for Pakistan.
Zakir pointed out the challenges faced by customs officials at Torkham due to inadequate facilities for both staff and passengers. He said that trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries could not flourish unless the road on the Afghan side of the border was widened. He revealed that the Customs authorities had repeatedly requested the Afghan government to widen their side of the road during flag meetings to address traffic flow issues on both sides of the border.
Regarding the conditions for passenger movement through Torkham, Zakir advocated for the issuance of Easement Rights (ER) to every passenger. This move would allow people living on both sides of the border, who share blood relationships, engage in collective businesses, and have a common culture, to move freely across the border.
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