Indifferent to the suffering of flood-hit people across the country, some ruling parties’ senators have been busy smuggling luxurious items into the country under the guise of relief goods for the affected people.
An official of the Customs told Pakistan Today that he had witnessed luxury goods worth Rs 2.3 billion get cleared by the authorities under the pretext of flood relief aid, in a single day of duty.
There was no record or a check and balnce on other goods being brought into the country in this manner. He said some ruling parties’ senators were using their influence to smuggle thousands of mobile phones, laptops and blankets into the country under the guise of relief items.
Sources in the Pakistan Customs said, “The ruling parties’ senators are bringing in goods under the cover of relief items as they are not subject to import duties.” “Who on earth needs laptops and mobile phones in the middle of a calamity,” the sources said.
“The consignments have been coming in for some months and are put on top of pallet sheets, which can carry a weight of up to 3,500 kilogrammes,” they said. Recently, three pallet sheets loaded with mobile phones weighing 10,500 kgs, two pallet sheets of laptops weighing 7,000 kg, and four pallet sheets of blankets weighing 14,000 kgs have been received by these influential senators, the source said.
He said two of the three ruling parties’ senators belonged to Karachi, and one of them, as well as his relatives, had over 23 cell phone shops in markets across Karachi. The other senator from Karachi also has huge share in imports meant for Karachi.
“He also has huge investments in the electronics business and has 11 shops at Sareena Mobile Market, North Nazimabad, six shops in Paposh Mobile Market and four in Computer Market at Uni-Plaza, II Chundrigar Road,” the source said. PIA spokesman Sultan Hassan Khan told Pakistan Today that the national carrier had so far received relief goods from UN, Red Cross and various other international non-governmental organizations.
“We don’t need to gather information about the relief goods of any private party, as it is the FIA and Customs’ job,” he said, adding that private parties had been allowed by the government to import relief goods for the affected people and PIA had no links with those parties.
The spokesman of Pakistan Customs refused to comment on the matter.