Key agencies will team up to curb smuggling: minister.

Byline: Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD -- Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem has said that besides the customs department, district administrations, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and civil and military intelligence agencies have been assigned special roles in the proposed anti-smuggling ordinance, expected to be enforced in a couple of days.

Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Mr Naseem said his ministry had sent the draft of the Anti-Smuggling Ordinance to the Prime Minister Office for vetting and approval.

Highlighting salient features of the draft ordinance, he said the main objective of bringing the law was to stop smuggling of dollars and essential commodities like wheat, sugar and potatoes through the undeclared routes. He identified a couple of undeclared routes, saying that the items could be smuggled to Afghanistan through undeclared routes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to Iran through Balochistan and to India through a long and porous border with India in Punjab. Similarly, the items can be smuggled out via Karachi.

The law minister said the smuggling was totally unacceptable at a time when the government was announcing subsidies on various items due to the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Draft ordinance provides for summary trial of suspects

Warning that stern action would be taken against those involved in smuggling of essential items, the minister said that no one would be allowed to take advantage of the prevailing situation in the wake of the pandemic.

Mr Naseem explained that though the Customs would be the focal department to check

smuggling, the FBR would be authorised to delegate powers to any agency like Levies Force, Federal Investigation Agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence and Coast Guards to seek their assistance. Besides this, the district administrations would also be bound under the law to share information pertaining to any act of smuggling or hoarding in their jurisdiction to the relevant institution.

The minister cautioned that stern action would be taken against the officers who would show negligence on the basis of a 'dereliction report' to be prepared by the federal law secretary.

Mr Naseem revealed that the accused persons would face summary trial and for this purpose special judges would be appointed after consultations with the chief justice of Pakistan. These judges will have qualifications equal to district judges and additional district judges.

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