Karachi: 53 ‘smuggled’ vehicles seized
KARACHI: Following the orders of apex court, the Custom Intelligence authorities seized at least 53 vehicles belonging to influential persons, sources told The Nation on Sunday. Official sources confirmed that currently about 100,000 vehicles including luxury jeeps, cars and mini trucks, smuggled into Sindh without paying custom duty, have caused loss of billion of rupees to the public exchequer. Though, the vehicles entered in the Karachi illegally but a number of such smuggled vehicles owners have been registered with Motor Vehicles Registration (MVR) Department of Excise and Taxation Sindh and are regularly paying taxes to the provincial government.
An official of Custom Intelligence informed on condition of anonymity that on the directives of a close aide of the Sindh Excise Minister Sindh, MVR officials have registered the smuggled vehicles with the provincial department. The official alleged that some of the MVR officials are minting money of around Rs30, 000 for providing documents to the smuggled vehicles and almost Rs0.4 million to get registered with the department. The vehicles are smuggled from Afghanistan through Chaman Road with the connivance of officials of law enforcement agencies. The seized vehicles including mini trucks, registered with the provincial excise department, were used as trawler. Sources said that the owners of the vehicles got the vehicles as registered as mini trucks due to the less rate of tax than trawlers.
Following the Supreme Court directives in its interim order in Karachi law and order case, Sindh Excise Department Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla claimed that an inter-link system was already existed to nab the non-custom duty paid vehicles. However, the sources confirmed the inter-link system was only operative for catch the stolen or snatched vehicles as such system does not identify the smuggled vehicles. It may be recalled that former Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, during his press conference in 2002, had revealed that at least 6,000 smuggled vehicles plying on the roads of the Karachi. On his instruction, a special squad led by Rana Tasleem was established in the custom department to take action against the smuggled vehicles. Most of the smuggled vehicles are currently plying on the road of Punjab or rural areas of the Sindh, so the custom department is facing difficulties to follow and take action against them. Officials said that the no severe punishment exists in the law against the vehicle smugglers as law allows only seizing of the smuggled vehicles. A senior official of the custom department told The Nation on the condition of anonymity that there are a few officials who are taking interest against the non-custom paid vehicles in the province despite order issued by the Supreme Court.