Customs officials' infighting leaves Pak-China trade in limbo.

GILGIT -- The wrangling between high-ranking customs officials has been hampering operations at the Sost dry port - the country's main land trade post with China - effectively halting goods transportation from China to Pakistan through the Khunjerab Pass.

Gilgit-Baltistan Collector Customs Nisar Ahmed Khan has accused the Federal Board of Revenue's Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation in Islamabad of 'needlessly' blocking consignments from China 'without any jurisdiction' in the region.

As the discord intensified, Mr Khan allegedly allowed the release of four consignments, which had been blocked by the intelligence directorate.

The GB Customs Collectorate had earlier cleared consignments that were eventually blocked in October of this year, after intelligence directorate officials suspected that high taxable items were part of these consignments.

GB collector accuses customs intelligence of working 'without jurisdiction'

According to rules, the blocked consignments can only be cleared after the completion of an investigation by the intelligence directorate.

However, when Mr Khan visited the dry port on Nov 1, he ordered the assistant collector to release the consignments through manual inspection, in an apparent violation of rules as electronic clearance of the same is necessary.

The same day, the assistant collector wrote to a senior manager of the Sost dry port to release the blocked consignments.

The letter, seen by Dawn, stated: 'It has been decided by competent authority that ... GD [goods declaration] number 278, 351, 357, 358, blocked by intelligence and investigation Islamabad, may be released and goods may be delivered to owners.'

Meanwhile, officials of the intelligence directorate told Dawn on condition of anonymity - as they are not authorised to speak to the media - that the blocked consignments cannot be released without the directorate's permission.

When asked to comment, FBR Spokesperson Afaque Ahmed Qureshi said that apparently...

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