ISLAMABAD: Just a few kilometres from the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters is the Kabari Bazaar – but unlike most bazaars where you find local goods, this particular market is filled with smuggled and looted Nato supplies.

The flooding of the market with these unusual goods coincides with the initiation of Nato and US troops’ withdrawal from neighbouring Afghanistan.

One can find everything from the travelling bags of American troops to brand-new all-weather sleeping bags, belts, leather covers for revolvers, boots, hunter kits, caps and tents on sale.

Zuhruddin, a shopkeeper in the market, is very candid in admitting that all these goods are either smuggled from Afghanistan into Pakistan or looted from containers carrying supply for American troops stationed across the border.

“We get supplies of these items from Peshawar and Quetta,” he says, adding that an order for different goods is placed with a middleman who then brings them to the market after a month. Zuhruddin claims that all the items in his shop are original and made in the US. “All the items carry an American flag and the brand name of American companies. We don’t deal in fake things.”

The list of items available isn’t limited to basic travel gear and apparel. Night vision goggles and laser rifles can be arranged for potential customer on order. “These are sensitive and costly items; therefore, we don’t keep them in the shop,” he explains.

US troops’ shoes are sold for Rs3,000 ($30), while belts and travelling bags bearing the US flag are sold for Rs500 ($5) and Rs2,500 ($25) respectively.

It’s not easy, however, for the shopkeepers to get their hands on these much sought after items. “Every shopkeeper in the market cannot get hold of American military gear because one needs to have a good rapport with big businessmen in Peshawar and Quetta to order the fatigues,” says Zuhruddin.

Irfan Mehmood, a customer in the market, says that he usually visits the market every two weeks to see if there is something new. “American boots and commando belts are wonderful and comparatively cheap.” He says that he is looking for an American travelling bag and tent as he is planning to go to Kaghan for a trip with his family next week.

The vast majority of goods meant for American and Nato troops in Afghanistan first arrive at the Karachi seaport and are later transported to Kabul in containers. It takes almost five days to reach Kabul through Peshawar and the Khyber Pass, or through Chaman.

A customs official speaking on the condition of anonymity told that in most cases, the containers’ drivers and conductors sell the items in Peshawar and Quetta’s black-markets and “pretend to be looted by goons on their way to Kabul.” He admits, however, that looting and stealing goods cannot be ruled out as well.

The official also clarified that weapons and ammunition are not transported by road, and are flown to Afghanistan instead.

Mohammad Khurshid, another shopkeeper in the market, says he gets the supply of American troops’ fatigues from Peshawar. However, he expresses his ignorance about the smuggling and stealing of these goods. “We give money in advance to a dealer in Peshawar and receive the supply after two weeks,” he says, boasting that these items have boosted his business manifold.

The uniform of the Pakistan Army and other military accessories can also be found hanging outside the shops in the market. Army personnel and civilians buy this gear from this market, although it is banned by the local administration.

After a brazen attack on the GHQ in Rawalpindi in October 2009, the local administration barred private tailors from sewing uniforms for soldiers and other gears but the ban has not implemented. It is believed that the terrorists who attacked the GHQ had bought the army uniform from the open market.

Nevertheless, the items meant for American troops are hot favourites for their durability and comparatively cheap prices. And it’s not just the Kabari Bazaar – the Karkhano Market in Peshawar is notorious for the sale and purchase of stolen Nato goods, including even electronic appliances and household items.

The writer is a freelance contributor. His Twitter handle is @AamirSaeed_.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (27)

June 25, 2013 5:14 pm

What has GHQ got to do with this market? What's your point A-Hole?

June 25, 2013 5:34 pm

And a few kilometers away, even US soldiers in the US embassy.

Agha Ata
June 25, 2013 6:26 pm

So, the retired businessmen of prosperous Landi Kotal (that once it was) have finally found another business. :)

June 25, 2013 6:26 pm

great and perhaps not very surprising cuz. we know this is Pakistan and everything can be bought here from a dead persons ornaments to living man's faith.......

June 25, 2013 8:25 pm

Big shoes to fill!

June 25, 2013 8:44 pm

Not much different from the Soviet-Afghan war days. I bought smuggled or stolen shoes in Peshawar that were meant to be sent to the Mujahideen. The shoes were made in Germany and of were very high quality. A lot of times the Mujahideen themselves would sell the surplus items to these dealers in Peshawar to buy other goods.

June 25, 2013 9:21 pm

Very nice article......... can i place an online order for night vision googles....lolz

June 25, 2013 9:34 pm

These are not stolen goods but have been exchanged by the soldiers for opium.

June 25, 2013 10:53 pm

Awesome title for the article. Hope the pun is not missed on the readers.

June 26, 2013 1:19 am

The excellent story as the author has rightly pointed out a fumble right under the nose of army brass. This may seem a petty issue but .............. !

sundas khan
June 26, 2013 1:57 am

No doubt the duarbility of such are splendid.... but it should not be practice by the people to use such things although these are cheap, espically weapons

yaqoot mir
June 26, 2013 2:22 am

Next there will be a sucide bombing by Taliban in a US uniform....keep sleeping GHQ.....sleep is always good for health and also life(as long as you enjoy a long life with being killed)

June 26, 2013 5:23 am

How do you know it is stolen goods? You can buy these items in open market in the US as well. It could very well be stolen but this is simple bad reporting with out any knowledge of the availability of such products

June 26, 2013 8:26 am

Weekly Sunday Bazaar in Karachi also sells them.

June 26, 2013 11:41 am

Quite easy for anyone to buy Pak army uniforms/gears, impersonate and then do the the ill-job!

June 26, 2013 11:52 am

@gangadin: I think the writer means that such brazenly illegal stuff is going on right under the noses of the GHQ bosses and they can't/won't clamp down on it. This sends a wrong message to the international community. Moreover, the sale/purchase of military uniforms/fatigues should be strictly regulated so that they don't end up in the wrong hands. Otherwise, we'll have a repeat of the terrorist attacks whereby militants dressed up in army uniforms attacked the GHQ, PAF base Kamra, the PAF base in Karachi, etc.

June 26, 2013 12:25 pm

Weirdly, this has put a smile on my face. And no it has got nothing to do with stealing from Americans. More to do with the simplicity of an intricate process of smuggling.

June 26, 2013 12:49 pm

@gangadin: Army is so incompetent they can't even protect GHQ/Country from Taliban attacks you think they would know who is selling what round the corner.

Aftab Kenneth Wilson
June 26, 2013 1:02 pm

What about our claim to be the best security personnel in the world. This report has shown us a mirror where we see others pictures and not ours. The word STOLEN is has no meaning for us ...... no crime.

June 26, 2013 2:20 pm

I pitty such an ill-informed Dawn News journalist. These goods were available in Khazano Market Hayatabad peshawar since the time NATO/US troops landed in Afghanistan. These r not stolen only , these r sold by NATO/US troops to make money like our people do. NATO/US troops r no angels , they r big thieves, if u come across them.

June 26, 2013 4:14 pm

Honestly after reading this article, I got crazy to buy these things quickly before they got out of stock. I live in Karachi but eager to travel Peshawar for these things. :)

Apart from my personal morals, our govt should take measures to stop these black markets, run by local mafia and provoke local robbers to make some good money on the cost of innocent peoples.

June 26, 2013 4:41 pm

90% of the items are a first copy of the original, made in china. And they sell it to the enthusiastic people, who think they are buying NATO goods.

June 26, 2013 10:07 pm

Made in China probably. The US military also procures via tender from the cheapest supplier that meets their specs. That supplier no doubt sources their goods from China.

June 27, 2013 8:19 am

@XIA: Do you really believe that every good thing should come from the government?

zia khan
June 27, 2013 11:27 am

The writer has tried to make it sensational by telling the distance between GHQ and Kabari Bazar. What GHQ has got to do with this trade idiot? Stuff belonging to NATO is not their problem. Since Soviet invasion this type of trade has always flourished on the side lines. Soviet soldiers sold a lot of stuff including Kalashnikovs while leaving Afghanistan. There will be a glut in the market as NATO soldiers won't be taking everything with them when they depart in large numbers next year.

June 27, 2013 11:49 am

I bought SAS field cap and boots from the lighthouse market in Karachi 2 years ago. I guess the author wouldnt mind blaming their availability on the Karachi Corp HQ, which is hardly 3 miles from that place.

June 27, 2013 1:36 pm

Can i buy it online, I would really like to buy travel bags and shoes, Can anyone buy and send it to me

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