Pakistan has been facing an annual loss of Rs. 60 billion from illegal cross-border smuggling of oil at Pak-Iran border, a parliamentary panel was informed on Tuesday.
Senator Mohsin Aziz, while chairing a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum, said the smuggling of petroleum products had increased and the government was suffering an annual loss of Rs. 60 billion due to smuggled Iranian oil.
However, Senators were of the view that people living near the border had no other business and therefore it was difficult to control smuggling. “If you stop them from smuggling, they could carry guns,” he warned. He suggested that Pakistan State Oil (PSO) should relax the policy of setting up retail outlets in Balochistan.
The Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum was informed on Tuesday that total sale of diesel has declined by 1.4 million tonnes in last 10 months of the current fiscal year due to the increased smuggling of petroleum items from Iran to Pakistan.
Jamaldini said Iran that wanted trade relations with Pakistan and setting up retail outlets for petroleum products would help stop oil smuggling.
More efforts should be made to set up Pak-Iran joint markets, he said. Senator Bahramand Khan alleged that government officials were also involved in the business. Senator Mir Kabeer Shahi said people from the low-income group were involved in smuggling, but it would stop if the people were given employment opportunities.
During the meeting, different initiatives were discussed to control the smuggling of petroleum products through the Pak-Iran border.
DIG Frontier Corps Balochistan Brigadier Rizwan said Balochistan had a long border with Iran and it was the responsibility of the Customs officials to stop smuggling. “FC provides only security,” he said, adding that there was no petroleum retail outlet on the 2,000km-long road. He suggested the setting up retail outlets for petroleum products on the road will help control smuggling.
Customs officials revealed that one official was deployed in an area of 1,119 kilometres. They suggested that an operational policy and legislation should be prepared to end the smuggling of Iranian oil.
They said that they had given a proposal to set up a border task force. The committee recommended more deployment of Frontier Corps personnel and Customs officials to stop smuggling.