KARACHI - The Supreme Court has issued a detailed verdict in Karachi law and order implementation case, formation a one-member fact-finding commission to look into the issue of arms smuggling into the country in shipping containers and theft of duty at Karachi’s seaports.
The commission comprises Former Customs Member Ramzan Bhatti, who would consult customs authorities, director generals of Pakistan coast guards and maritime security agency and present a report based on workable proposals within seven days.
The commission would ascertain as to who was/were responsible for allowing seafaring vessels and motorboats loaded with illegal weapons berth at Karachi port. The commission would also probe the reports that a shipload of guns and ammo arrived at the Karachi port during the tenure of former minister for ports and shipping.
In its verdict, the top court also sought suggestions for corrective measures, appropriate lawful action, and strict penalisation to halt this influx of firearms that were subsequently used to perpetrate organised violent crime. The court ordered Nadra to complete the task of weapons registration in the shortest possible time.
“Reportedly the customs authorities are charging 100 percent duty at Karachi Port Trust and Port Qasim but it was not being passed on to the treasury, thus the court orders investigation into this massive damage to the national exchequer”, the order said. The court ordered the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) to fully cooperate with the commission in investigating smuggling activities at the ports.
The bench observed that control of movement of weapons is one of the most important aspects to control law and order situation and ensure peace. The bench said that Karachi was full of arms and ammunition and despite lapse of two years, no headway so far has been made by law enforcing agencies to recover the illegal weapons.
Earlier, the five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry resumed the hearing of the case for the third consecutive day. The bench summoned former Custom Collector over the issue of transportation of arms.
When questioned, Sindh Rangers Director General Maj-Gen Rizwan Akhtar informed the court that around 19,000 shipping containers containing weapons and vehicles had gone missing during the tenure of the former minister for ports and shipping. The issue came into limelight some years ago and the same weapons were now being used in Karachi and the city is burning due to it.
Rizwan said that the weapons were taken to the tribal areas and then brought back to the port city. He said that National and Super highways and Hub routes were used in their transportation. He said there were hundreds of routes between Sindh and Balochistan where there were several security check-posts but no law enforcement personnel to man them.
The Rangers DG also told the court that 78 per cent of the illegal weapons being used in Karachi were foreign-manufactured. He said these included AK-47s and German and American 9mm pistols, which were mainly used in targeted killings and other heinous crimes in the city. He said that illegally smuggled weapons, previously of the US military troops in Afghanistan, were also recovered in Waziristan when he was serving in the restive tribal region.
Rizwan said different agencies are investigating the smuggling and trafficking of arms and ammunition but he pointed to the lack of proper monitoring at the ports. He said that there was need for better scanners as properly scanning thousands of containers was a tough task.
Chief collector customs informed the court that due to lack of recourses like manpower and funds they were unable to control smuggling of arms and ammunition. The bench directed him to keep strict vigil at present on smuggling of weapons via Karachi port and port Qasim, from where allegedly arms and other contraband are smuggled into country with connivance of the customs authorities. Chief justice said that black money was coming into Pakistan, which is supplied to terrorists and criminals for committing terrorist acts. He said that due to Hundi system, dollar has gained weight against the rupee. He directed customs authorities to strictly check and prevent flow of black money into country.
The bench had also summoned the Chief Secretary to the court. When asked how many CCTV cameras were presently installed in the city, the Chief Secretary told the bench that 1,200 cameras were currently placed in different parts of Karachi. However, of these, a majority were in need of repair while the rest have been put up in such a way that they are unable to show any clear footage of the area.
Regarding the difficulties of effectively implementing security in Karachi, the CJ ordered that the proper installation of CCTV cameras in different parts of the city be completed as soon as possible. After being assured by the Sindh and Federal government, the bench adjourned proceedings until September 18, ordering the Advocate General and the Attorney General to submit their progress reports at the next hearing.