Friday, September 24, 2010

Leaky and corrupt

With reference to your editorial "Leaky and corrupt" (Sept 22) I can say on the basis of my experience that the customs is one of the most corrupt departments in the country. The chief justice is to be commended for taking action in the case of the missing containers. But I doubt if the customs personnel can ever be tamed. They know that the importer is anxious to avoid demurrage, so they create all kinds of hurdles in speedy and smooth clearance of goods. Moreover, you can get any container cleared without examination after paying twenty-five thousand rupees as bribe, as those who have brought their household goods from Dubai have found. As the CJ observed, explosives can also be brought into the country if containers are not subjected to detailed examination.
The Afghan Transit Trade has also been a major source of smuggled goods into the country. A memorandum of understanding was signed to renew ATT, and among the conditions to prevent its misuse was that logistic containers would be opened in Afghanistan, bank guarantees would be provided to Pakistan Customs and all containers would be electronically sealed and monitored on their way from Karachi to the border. Yet these steps have not been implemented so far, despite the fact that Hilary Clinton clapped enthusiastically when it was signed. Do we now need to call her again and force the government to implement the agreement, or will we surrender to vested interests and let this facility continue to be misused?

Shakir Lakhani
The News, September 24, 2010