Step taken to mull barter trade from 13 Balochistan border districts

ISLAMABAD: The govt has formed a body to devise a special package for 13 districts of Balochistan bordering Iran and Afghanistan through which it has been proposed by traders to legalise importing oil from Iran with a levy of Rs30 or Rs50 per litre.

The report stated that the people’s movement has been restricted since the border areas were fenced, which caused multiple issues in some of Balochistan’s districts. It has been nearly 300 days since the locals are protesting the blockade.

Sources told that the matter was sensitive considering Washington’s economic sanctions against Tehran, therefore, the Pakistani authorities were looking for a way to start barter trade to avert the violation of such sanctions.

The fact that citizens of Balochistan have been staging sit-in protests for the past 282 days demanding the resumption of movement and trade with the bordering countries has further exacerbated the situation internally. These 13 districts are home to around 56% of the province’s population.

Rough estimates suggest that around one million litres of POL products are being smuggled at the moment from Iran daily. The government and intelligence agencies knew that there was a network of 14,000 people across the country who were allegedly involved in transporting and using smuggled oil from Iran.

The high-powered committee, led by the minister for commerce and other ministers along with bureaucrats, is deliberating on regularising the border trade without facing the wrath of the US.

Traders who are involved in this barter trade have proposed to the government to impose a levy of Rs30 or Rs50 per litre. They have alleged that personnel manning check-posts were charging bribes in the range of Rs50 per litre for transportation of petrol and diesel in different parts of the country. If the government starts charging a levy up to Rs50 per litre, then there would be no problem for them to pay into national kitty.

The committee is expected to present a detailed report to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for taking a final decision on this proposed package.

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