PESHAWAR: The provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has launched a crackdown on the illegal transport of cattle to Afghanistan, in an attempt to control the rising price of livestock in local markets in the run-up to Eid Al-Adha.
Teams have been sent to the Takhta Beg checkpoint in the Jamrud subdivision of the tribal district to prevent the smuggling of animals, said Syed Masoom Ali Shah, director of the KP Directorate of Livestock and Diary Development.
“The ban on cattle transportation is not new; it had been enforced by the federal government since September 2013,” he added. “But some people still managed to smuggle cattle to Afghanistan through less-frequented routes in the Tirah and Shalman valleys in KP tribal district.”
Dost Muhammad Khan, the chief Minister of KP, on Monday ordered a ban on export of cattle and foodstuffs to Afghanistan from KP, because it was causing shortages and price increases for people in the province, given the high demand during Eid Al-Adha.
The livestock directorate has also set up nine teams to regularly spray animals at cattle markets to prevent the spread of Congo virus.
“In Peshawar alone there are about seven cattle markets and our mobile teams regularly visit and spray the animals at all the markets,” said Shah.
Afghanistan exports sheep to Pakistan but KP supplies buffaloes and cows to Afghanistan, he added.
“For the sheep transported to Pakistan from Afghanistan, we have our experts who check the animals’ health and then allow their transportation into Pakistan,” he explained.
Arbab Saadullah Khan, the owner of Kala Mandi, a major cattle market in Peshawar, welcomed the government crackdown.
“It will definitely lower cattle prices in Peshawar and other parts of KP,” said Khan, a former member of the National Assembly. Most of the cattle in his market come from Multan, Bahawalpur, Gujranwala and other locations in Punjab. “Most of the cattle markets in KP, including Peshawar, receive livestock from Punjab,” he added.
Niaz Muhammad, assistant commissioner of the Landikotal subdivision of Khyber tribal district, said that cattle smuggling had been curbed at the border with fencing.
“Border routes in Shalman and Tirah, through which the cattle used to be smuggled to Afghanistan, have been fenced,” he said. “In the wake of a recent directive by the KP chief minister, the surveillance of these routes has been further strengthened through the paramilitary FC (Frontier Corps) personnel deployed there now.”
Cattle that are seized are often sold at auction because smugglers are usually unable to afford the fines that are imposed, said Muhammad.
Behramand Khan, a spokesman for the KP chief minister, said that the provincial government has directed all divisional commissioners and tribal district deputy commissioners to closely monitor the borders with Afghanistan to prevent smuggling of cattle.
“The KP chief minister himself is monitoring the issue and has asked the deputy commissioners, particularly of those of the tribal districts bordering Afghanistan, to update him on daily basis,” he added.