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December 15, 2018

Rs15m illegal ‘rahdaris’ being collected daily in erstwhile Fata

Peshawar

December 15, 2018

PESHAWAR: Despite merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May this year, the administration in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) allegedly collects Rs15 million illegal rahdaris (transit taxes) daily that added a new facet to the undocumented ‘black economy’ in the tribal districts, sources said.

Referring to the document of the Fata Analysis & Strategy Team (FAST), Law & Order Department, Fata Secretariat, they said that FAST finding drew the gloomiest picture of the post-merger “Fata.”

The sources said it was announced on May 2 by the then prime minister that Agency Development Fund (ADF) would be abolished in Fata and the expenditures under the corresponding heads of accounts would be provided from the current budget.

“It meant that the regime of collecting Rahdari cess on various goods and produce transported from within Pakistan or across the border with Afghanistan should have been stopped forthwith,” the source added.

However, collection of such taxes or “extortion” as the FAST document calls it continues unabatedly and its spillover is now seeping into all strata of administration, the sources added. It has become the prime reason for rampant corruption in erstwhile Fata impeding total merger of these areas to the KP.

Earlier a system was in place and the amount so collected was to be deposited in a bank account, subject to internal auditing mechanism, which was to be spent under the various head of accounts in the former tribal agencies. But all the money goes into the pockets of those at the helm of affairs.

The bulk of money mints, the sources said, remain the tribal districts where transit trade with Afghanistan is carried out such as South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Kurram and Khyber districts.

The document shared with The News shows that in South Waziristan district there are three checkposts entering from Tank at Gardawai, Razghai and Kamraiz. These lead up to the Afghan transit post of Angoor Ada on the border with Afghanistan. The checkposts are manned by the local Levies and Khassadar force under the supervision of district administration.

It said that around 150 trucks are transported through the area daily and each truck pays Rs500 to Rs1,000 on these three posts, while at Angoor Ada Rs3,000 per truck is allegedly charged on crossing over to Afghanistan. This leads to the daily average income of about Rs2 million.

Besides, during the chilghooza (pine nuts) season, Rs700,000 are also allegedly collected from each truck for processing of chilghooza at Agri Park Wana. The quantum of illegal per day collection in South Waziristan, according to the sources, is around Rs3 million.

In North Waziristan district three checkposts are set up in Bannu Kajori, Esha and Daduni, which lead up to the Afghan transit post of Ghulam Khan.

The sources said that around 150 trucks cross these posts after paying Rs500 to Rs1,000 for each truck, while at Ghulam Khan post each truck is charged Rs.3,000. The daily average income in the district, the sources said, comes to Rs2 million.

These collections are mostly kept secret, the sources said and claimed that three days before the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan the district on November 26 the collections were halted that have now been restarted. The truckers are issued unsigned ‘security pass’ on plain papers.

The collection of illegal taxes in Khyber district is also continuing. Four checkposts entering from Peshawar have been established at Takhta Beg, Jamrud, Prang Sam and Bugyari, the sources added.

These lead up to the border town of Torkham. On a daily basis around 400 trucks cross the border and each is charged Rs200 to Rs600,while at Torkham each trucker has to pay Rs5,000. The daily average income from these collections in the distinct comes to Rs4 million.

The smuggling of non-custom paid (NCP) vehicles is also rampant and around 30 to 40 vehicles are smuggled directly from Torkham every week from which Rs1.4 million are collected weekly.

Moreover, smuggling on camelback and on foot through Guru check post in Shaman generating Rs1.4 million and Rs6 million is daily collected illegally in the district.

The sources added that in Kurram district one checkpost is set up at Chappari that leads to two Afghan transit terminal posts of Kharlachi and Shaheedanudand at which around 300 trucks transport goods daily. Only 50 trucks of goods are consumed in the district which the rest cross over to Afghanistan by paying Rs5,000 per truck. The illegal daily collections come to Rs1.7 million on the average. About Rs2 million every month is collected from the smuggled of NCP vehicles in the district.

No transit of goods is taking through posts in Bajaur and Mohmand districts.

The daily quantum of what the report refers to as ‘black economy’ in the newly merged districts is around Rs15 million, which doesn’t include the money minted from by narcotics trade, weapons smuggling, and human trafficking.

The scribe repeatedly tried to contact Additional Chief Secretary Fata Secretariat, Sikandar Qayyum, through cellphone calls and texts for comment, but he did not respond.

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