Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain said on Wednesday that anti-smuggling operations should be expedited and influential transit mafia should be arrested to end the crisis engulfing the country.
The transit agreement has been destroying the economy for decades; therefore, it should be revisited in the national interest, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the government is discouraging unnecessary imports and taking action against the currency smugglers to save foreign exchange, but on the other hand, the transit mafia continues to inflict heavy losses on the country.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the latest data indicates that the Afghan transit trade cargo has increased by 39%, which is very alarming.
The transit mafia is active on both sides of the border and includes influential people from both countries. The transit trade agreement that has been going on for years has ruined Pakistan’s economy, he added.
The business leader said that according to the customs data, 74316 containers went from Pakistan to Afghanistan in 2022, while in 2023 this number increased to 102886. According to the data, goods worth four billion dollars were transported in 2022, while in 2023 they reached 6.7 billion dollars.
However, it is also an open secret that many containers have other goods than those shown by importers and that many containers are emptied in Pakistani markets instead of going to Afghanistan.
All the wrongdoings are done with the connivance of the black sheep of the concerned departments, and if anyone raises his voice against them, his life is made miserable, he informed.
Mian Zahid Hussain further said that the conditions for industrialization in Pakistan are already unfavourable, and even if smuggling is reduced, industrialists will continue to become property dealers.
Investment in the industrial sector in the country is considered a total loss, therefore the government has to suffer a huge loss in terms of revenue, while the number of unemployed is increasing due to a lack of investment in the industry.
He said that after several decades, the country has launched effective anti-trafficking efforts as the survival of the country is at stake. Borders are being monitored, transportation of smuggled goods is being discouraged, and other measures are also in progress.
Apart from these measures, action is also needed against the powerful transit mafia that smuggles these items, and action is also required against those who sell them.
There are markets all over the country where smuggled goods are being sold openly and without any fear of law.
A complete ban on transit trade may require the strictest administrative action against those who destroy the domestic economy by benefiting from such agreements. He said that the economy must be fully documented to permanently remedy this evil.