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

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.

Pakistan ready to respond to a full spectrum threat — army spokesman

Updated 30 min 45 sec ago

Pakistan ready to respond to a full spectrum threat — army spokesman

  • Prepared to counter any attack from Indian security forces
  • Warns New Delhi against action; says Islamabad “would surprise you”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor warned India on Friday against any military action, saying that should New Delhi “show any aggression,” it would be Islamabad that would “surprise you”. 
He added in the same breath that “we do not wish to go to war”.
In his statement — which was in response to growing threats from its nuclear-armed neighbor — the spokesperson said that Islamabad was prepared to respond to a “full spectrum threat” without enabling its nuclear capability.
“Pakistan is not preparing for war. War and revenge threats are coming from you. We are a sovereign state and hold the right to respond to your threats. We are not preparing to initiate, but response and defense is our right and we will exercise that,” he said, adding that he hoped India “got the message”.
Ghafoor said Islamabad delayed its response to the Pulwama attack to investigate New Delhi’s baseless claims of state-sponsored terrorism to ascertain the veracity of the allegations, following which Prime Minister Imran Khan responded in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday wherein he rejected the assertion and warned New Delhi of retaliation if attacked.
He said that Khan has offered to assist India in investigating the attack if it can back its claims and would take strict measures against the person who is “an enemy of Pakistan”, an offer Ghafoor said has been given before as well. He added that “terrorism is a regional problem and Pakistan is willing to table talks with India on the matter”.
Ghafoor made the comments at a press briefing which came a week after a deadly suicide attack in the Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir. The attack killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel and left scores injured.
Listing terror incidents of the past in India or Indian-administered Kashmir, Ghafoor said there is a pattern of occurrences of this nature adding that “when an important event for Pakistan is scheduled to happen, this type of stage action arises”.
The brazen bombing came before eight very important engagements for Pakistan, Ghafoor explained connecting India’s previous attempts to paint Pakistan as the sponsor of terrorism, hold its western neighbor responsible and push it toward diplomatic isolation.
“Saudi Crown Prince was due in Pakistan to hold a (historic) investment conference, talks on terror listing at United Nations Security Council was scheduled, development on Afghan peace reconciliation process was underway, discussions on human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir at the European Union was due, the decisive hearing of (Indian spy) Kulbushan Jhadav case at the world court, a discussion on Financial Action Task Force was to take place for a decision on Pakistan, both sides (India and Pakistan) were to hold a meeting on the Kartarpur border crossing development, and Pakistan super league cricket matches [in which foreign players are participating] had begun,” he said.
The military spokesman questioned how cross border infiltration could have happened when the number of Indian security forces is larger than the population of Kashmiris. “India should ask its forces which have been there for seven decades and spent a huge quantum on defense, how infiltration occurred?” he said.
“The attack happened miles from the Line of Control (LoC), the explosives used were under use by Indian security forces and administration – it didn’t come from Pakistan. The vehicle used was local, not from Pakistan. The attack [was carried out ] by the young Kashmiri, who was resident of Indian-administered Kashmir,” Ghafoor said.
He added that Pakistan is the only country in the world that has not let terrorism take control of its narrative and has given ample sacrifices to counter it. He cited the example of Islamabad helping other nations eliminate Al Qaeda from Afghanistan.
Kashmir, he said, is the biggest issue of the region and offered India to resume talks on the matter. Being the world’s largest democracy, India needs “introspection” on the Kashmir issue and two democracies can’t afford war, he said.