Khyber - Tire smuggling from Afghanistan to Pakistan via the Torkham border remains a widespread issue, with no effective checks in place. Truck drivers returning from Afghanistan have been found involved in this illegal activity.
Rather than putting an end to the unlawful practice, customs officials and security personnel have been accused of accepting bribes from the smugglers.
According to Abdullah, an Afghanistan- bound trailer driver, before reaching the border, they remove two, four, or more wheels from the middle and back rows of their vehicles. Once they deliver the consignments in Afghanistan, they replace the missing tires with new ones purchased from dealers on the Afghan side of the border. After delivering the goods in Peshawar, they receive five thousand rupees per pair of tires as carrying charges. This additional income helps them cope with the rising fuel prices. Javed, another Afghan driver, stated that they can carry out the illegal business with the support of border officials.
At the Torkham border, Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers and customs officials receive five hundred rupees each per truck. At the import terminal in Torkham, customs officials collect an additional five hundred rupees. At the Michni checkpoint, while exiting the import point, truckers pay another five hundred rupees to the customs officials, and at the Parang Sam check post in Jamrud, they give an extra five hundred rupees to the police personnel. Approximately forty to 60% of truckers are involved in tire smuggling, with each truck smuggling four to ten tires at a time.
According to data from customs officials at the Michni check post, around 120 to 240 vehicles loaded with different imported commodities cross into Pakistan from Torkham daily. Sartaj Khan, a tire dealer in Peshawar, mentioned that various tire brands range in price from one lakh thirty thousand rupees per pair to one lakh rupees in the local market. There is a price difference of ten thousand to fifteen thousand rupees between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The tire prices fluctuate daily, directly connected to the rise and fall of the American Dollar. Many tires available in the market are made in China, as dealers prefer to buy them at a lower rate from across the border in Afghanistan due to high import duties. Customs officials at the import exit point in Michni stated that they have taken several trucks carrying smuggling tires into legal custody, but the illicit practice continues due to flaws in the customs law, which prevents them from taking appropriate legal action.
The current customs regulations in the country do not allow the removal of unpaid custom-duty tires fixed on running vehicles across the border in Afghanistan, which contributes to the challenges in curbing tire smuggling effectively.