Saturday July 20, 2024

Lost a car? Go find it in ‘Sultan da Khoo’ in parts and pieces!

By Mobarik A Virk
October 10, 2017

Islamabad  :For the last over three decades the second-hand automobile body and engine parts market in ‘Sultan da Khoo’ has been the place where most of the people would head to if they need something to put back a broken down car back in order.

Start from a simple nut-bold to complete engines, you name anything and they have got it for you. These are called the ‘Kabli parts’ because an overwhelming majority of owners of these auto-parts shops in the vast market are owned by Afghans or the Pakistani Pashtoons with Afghan connections!

It was and has been a common knowledge, not only among the masses but to the officials as well, that these parts were imported as ‘scrap’ by the Afghan or the KPK-based businessmen, meant to be sent to Afghanistan via Torkhum.

In the early years those containers never crossed over into Afghanistan but were opened as soon as those entered our ‘Tribal Areas’, mostly in Khyber Agency in Bara tehsil and the contents made their way back to the Pakistani markets in ‘Namak Mandi’ in Peshawar, ‘Sultan da Khoo’ in Rawalpindi and even in ‘Neela Gumbad’ market in Lahore!

A couple of decades ago, these parts, all sorts of parts, were really available cheap out there. Much cheaper as compared with the new ones available for the certified outlets of the automobile companies or the bonafide traders importing these parts in a legal manner! And somehow, people were made to believe that these ‘Kabli parts’ are better in quality because those are ‘authentic Japanese’ ones! And all of us, even the well educated ones, always believed the myth!

But all of us know that this ‘scrap’ being imported under the ‘Afghan Transit Trade’ (ATT) declined after the ‘War on Terror’ started in Afghanistan after 9/11. And with the passage of time the authorities started monitoring the movement of these containers and finally they made sure that the containers meant for Afghanistan must cross over into Afghanistan and not be opened inside the Tribal Areas of Pakistan (Khyber Agency in most of the cases).

Still those involved in this business found a way to wriggle out of these restrictions imposed on them. They would take these containers past the Pak-Afghan check post at Torkhum where they had already established vast compounds as warehouses.

Those containers were opened there and the contents were transported back into Pakistan areas on horse, mule, camel or donkey backs from where those will be transported to be markets in Peshawar, Rawalpindi and even to Lahore.

But since about a decade now, Pakistan started guarding its frontiers with Afghanistan very strictly and that practice of transporting this ‘scrap’ on beast-backs was no longer possible either. 

Still these ‘Kabli auto parts markets’ in Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore are brimming to capacity! There has to be something seriously wrong somewhere in the whole system!

We know that the concerned authorities must be vigilant to prevent this practice of importing auto parts as scrap under the ATT and we have reason to believe that they must be quite successful in their endeavours.

But we also know that the car lifting and car snatching has not stopped all over Pakistan! Earlier, most of these stolen or snatched vehicles would made their way to the Tribal Areas or somewhere deep in the KPK and some people even would get those recovered through a special ‘jirga system’.

But recently we have seen that the recovery of stolen or snatched cars has become less and less. There is a high probability that those engaged in the trade of ‘Kabuli parts’ are getting their ‘scrap’ out of the vehicles stolen here and quickly dismantled and sawed into pieces, like we can see the whole body fronts or backs including engines and laced with all the accessories therein!

We really wonder if it would be a shock if a victim of stolen vehicle may find his car back in bits and pieces if she spends enough time looking for that in the showrooms and godowns of these traders!!! Or is it an open secret, not worth paying much attention to, which we were not aware of over all these years!