ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) has sought out information from Pakistan Customs regarding the illegal duty-free items imported by the Embassy of Morocco in Islamabad, misusing its diplomatic portfolio.
According to the documents available with this scribe, the Embassy of Morocco imported duty-free items weighing 26 tonnes on August 16, 2019, from the Jebal Ali, United Arabs Emirates (UAE) by the United Arab Shipping Agency Co, bill no. LPL0891479.
The documents further reveal that the consigner is Alpha Shipping Ltd, and Viglen House Business Centre imported the container without approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
Sources privy to the development revealed that the MoFA’s protocol wing has not issued the note-verbale to the Morocco mission in Pakistan and the ministry, taking notice of this shipment, may investigate these imports.
When contacted, Moroccon Ambassador to Pakistan Muhammad Karmoune, through his admin officer Javed Anwer, said that the embassy has neither ordered nor imported such a huge consignment. He said the embassy will pursue the matter.
“The ambassador has also started an investigation about this shipment,” he added.
Sources state that some companies enjoyed a privileged level with the mutual understanding of the customs department and were easily able to cause huge financial damages to the national exchequer for vested interests in the name of duty-free imports.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is also investigating the case, and whether the embassy or shipper have been selling imported consumable items.
It may be mentioned here that under the Vienna Convention, foreign diplomats have limited exemption of duty on various items, including liquor, edibles and accessories.
In 2016, North Korean diplomats in Pakistan were caught attempting to import duty-free alcohol into Pakistan that exceeded quotas.