KARACHI, Aug 30: The Director General of Rangers, Maj Gen Rizwan Akhtar, submitted in the Supreme Court on Friday that about 19,000 containers had gone missing a few years ago and it must be pointed out who was at the helm of affairs in the ports and shipping ministry at that time.
He said there were many ways for smuggling arms and ammunition into the country. Dealers of arms and ammunition in Karachi must be put to scrutiny because without their assistance it was not possible to control the flow of weapons.
The DG Rangers informed a five-judge bench that in connivance with the then minister for ports and shipping, a shipload of arms and ammunition had been brought to Karachi and their whereabouts was never ascertained.
The bench, which comprises Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad Khawaja, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ather Saeed and Justice Azmat Saeed, is hearing implementation of its judgment in the Karachi law and order case at the Karachi registry of Supreme Court.
The court directed the collector of customs and director generals of the Pakistan Coast Guards and the Maritime Security Agency to hold a meeting to chalk out a strategy to curb the smuggling of weapons into the country through borders and ports.
The chief justice said customs duty was being evaded in connivance with custom officials, calling for strict check on the menace because it generated black money which was subsequently used by crime syndicates.
The court named Ramzan Bhatti, a former customs official, as one-man commission to find out whether arms and ammunition were brought or smuggled through the sea and suggest measures to stop it.
The commission will find out whether customs officials posted at Bin Qasim and Karachi parts recovered hundred per cent duty and revenues or was there any loophole which enables traders to avoid such payments. It will try to determine whether such black money is used for financing unlawful activities.
The commission will also look into the allegation levelled by the DG Rangers that a shipload of arms and ammunition was brought to Karachi in the past in connivance with the then minister for shipping and recommend action against the people found responsible for it. The commission is required to submit its report in seven days.
Advocate General Khalid Javed submitted a report to the court on behalf of the Sindh government which attributed its failure to eradicate terrorism and maintain law and order in Karachi to financial constraints. It said that over the past few years a huge amount of resources had been diverted to handing the crisis resulting from floods.
The report said a financial assistance of Rs10 billion would be sought from the federal government soon to “beef up security in the province and for capacity building of law enforcement agencies to combat crime on a sustainable basis”.
The chief justice regretted that Karachi was awash with illegal arms and ammunition, but no efforts had been made by law enforcement agencies to recover them despite a passage of two years.
“Not only in Karachi but in the entire country there is an uncontrolled flow of smuggled arms and ammunition which is definitely being used by unscrupulous elements for criminal activities,” the bench said.
The court observed: “After going through the report submitted by the advocate general, we are of the opinion that as now both the governments i.e. federal and provincial are on board, and have decided to provide protection to and secure the life, property and liberty of the citizens, therefore we have opted to exercise judicial restraint and adjourn this case.”
The court will resume the hearing on Sept 18.