Probe says $10m smuggled through Pakistan airports, borders every day

Currency smuggling through borders with Iran and Afghanistan is a frequent occurrence. (AFP/photo)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Probe says $10m smuggled through Pakistan airports, borders every day

  • 100 suspects named in money laundering scam
  • FIA report sent to top bodies for further investigation

KARACHI: A whopping $10 million is smuggled out of Pakistan every day in the form of different currencies and 60 percent of this is sent through western borders, including the Taftan border with Iran, officials said on Thursday.

Detailing the findings of a report by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Zafar Paracha, Secretary General of the Exchanges Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) said that while $10 million is an average estimate, the number can go up to $30 million, too.

The FIA’s report -- sent to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for further investigation -- states that the US dollar, pound sterling and several other foreign currencies are being smuggled on a massive scale through Iran land route.

A senior FIA official, who chose to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the matter, told Arab News that the agency suspects 100 people -- travelling to Iran through the Taftan border between April 15 and July 17 this year -- are allegedly involved in currency smuggling.

“Currency smuggling through borders with Iran and Afghanistan is a frequent occurrence and the FIA’s letter to the MOF and the FBR is aimed at checking the credentials of 100 frequent travelers, who may be involved in money laundering,” the official said, adding that the smuggling can’t be quantified.

“There are no measures to quantify the illegal transfer of money except in those cases when it’s confiscated so the successful illegal transfer can’t be quantified,” he said.

Malik Bostan, President of the Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), estimates that the currency smuggling to Iran and Afghanistan, is on a higher side. Bostan says he has evidence to support facts that up to $8 million are smuggled to Iran and Afghanistan from Pakistan on an average every day. 

He said that the interim regime’s decision to seal the borders with Iran and Afghanistan in August and the State Bank of Pakistan’s banning exchange houses from moving Pakistani currency from one city to another by air, had resulted in the highest trading month for the exchange companies.


Pakistani politicians, analysts appreciate Saudi Crown Prince’s stance on regional peace

Updated 17 June 2019
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Pakistani politicians, analysts appreciate Saudi Crown Prince’s stance on regional peace

  • The Crown Prince’s recent statement reflects his wisdom and restraint, says Senator Sehar Kamran
  • International community must act to defuse situation in the Middle East, maintains senior analyst Zahid Hussain

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s major political parties and analysts on Monday appreciated Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s statement that the Kingdom did not want a war in the Middle East.
In an interview last week, the Crown Prince also called for a decisive international position against Iran.
“At this very critical moment, the demonstration of restraint by the Saudi Crown Prince is very much appreciated. This shows his wisdom and rationale,” Senator Sehar Kamran of the Pakistan Peoples Party told Arab News, adding: “I believe the entire world will applaud the statement. We must give peace a chance and support efforts for political solution to all outstanding issues.”
“The international community can play an important role in reminding Iran of the consequences [of war] and help initiate a dialogues process to prevent further escalation of tensions in the region,” she continued.
Kamran said the recent attack on a Saudi oil tanker was a serious issue and must be strongly condemned.
“Every nation has the right to protect its sovereignty and national assets,” she noted. “Iran must act as a responsible state. A transparent investigation of the attack by the United Nations and collective wisdom on the issue will be the best option.”
Echoing her sentiment, Romina Khurshid Alam of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party also welcomed the Crown Prince’s statement.

“Our party leadership has always advocated for peace in the region and supports Pakistan’s role as a mediator to resolve all outstanding issues,” she said.
Omar Sarfraz Cheema, the central information secretary of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, told Arab News that “the PTI strongly condemns attacks on Saudi facilities by Houthis.”
He recalled that the Pakistani leadership had expressed its desire to play a mediator’s role for peace and stability in the Middle East.
Last week, Cheema told Arab News that Prime Minister Imran Khan had already urged the Houthis to engage in “meaningful dialogue” with Saudi Arabia to resolve the conflict. “This is a divisive issue for the whole Muslim world and should be resolved through negotiations,” he added.
“Peace is essential for the development of countries in the Middle East,” former Pakistani ambassador Rizwan-ul-Haq told Arab News. “Any country which upsets the tranquility and peace of the region must be invited to explain its position to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and asked to change its stance in a unanimous and decisive way.”
“We should sit together with transgressors and find a diplomatic solution before resorting to extreme measures,” he added.
Veteran Pakistani political commentator Zahid Hussain said that “the attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and oil facilities in the Kingdom have created a serious security situation in the Middle East and there is an urgent need for the international community to act and defuse the situation.”
“The Crown Prince is right that war is not an option,” he added.