PESHAWAR, Jan 23: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday withdrew restriction on export of cattle and poultry and dairy products to Afghanistan from the province by withdrawing its stay order issued six months ago.
The development after Cattle Exporters Association and Khyber Poultry Association assured the court in writing that the vacation of the stay order would not lead to shortage and exorbitant prices of their respective products in the province and that if that happens, they would be to blame.
However, the court didn’t vacate the stay order issued against export of poultry products by Pakistan Poultry Association to Afghanistan via Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the latter declined to give the same written undertakings.
Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Irshad Qaiser, who heard the case, directed the office-bearers of the two associations to inform it in case any official of the tribal administration, police, customs or other department asked them to pay bribe.
Lawyer Zafar Tahirkheli gave a written undertaking for Khyber Poultry Association that retail prices of broiler and breeder chicken would not exceed Rs185 per kg and Rs156 per kg respectively and if that happened, it (association) would be liable to pay Rs20 million as fine.
Also, Dairy Exporters Association gave a written undertaking that price of beef in the province would not cross the Rs270 per kg mark after the lifting of the restriction on cattle export to Afghanistan and if that happened, it (association) would pay penalty to the tune of Rs10 million.
The bench observed that prices of the products in question wouldn’t be increased without its permission.
The bench directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary, home and tribal affairs secretary, the director of anti-corruption establishment, all district police officers, deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners and officials of livestock department relevant to poultry products to continue with the functioning of the vigilance committees.
They were told to strictly control illegal transportation or smuggling of poultry products to Afghanistan.
The bench directed the provincial home secretary to direct the chiefs of all local vigilance committees to fax daily performance reports to the high court registrar.
The court later fixed the hearing for March 3.
On July 23 last year, the chief justice had taken a suo moto notice of the export and smuggling of the cattle and dairy and poultry products to Afghanistan in light of a report prepared by the court’s human rights cell.
On same day, the court suspended all export permits issued by the federal government and ordered confiscation of cattle being taken to Afghanistan even by permit holders. A ban was also placed on export of poultry products to Afghanistan.
During the Wednesday hearing, the bench overruled argument of the commerce ministry’s lawyer that export to Afghanistan was a federal subject and fell in the domain of his client and therefore, the high court could not hear the case.
The bench observed that permits for export of cattle and meat to Afghanistan were issued by the food and agriculture ministry, and livestock departments and not by the commerce ministry.
The office-bearers of the two associations said they would ensure by all means that shortage of cattle, and poultry and dairy products didn’t happen in the province and only surplus of these products were exported to Afghanistan.
However, representatives of Pakistan Poultry Association said they were not in a position to control the countrywide poultry and therefore, no assurance could be given about exorbitant prices or shortage of poultry products in the country.
Lawyer for PPA Attique Shah said consumption of poultry products increased manifold in certain seasons, including the month of Ramazan, while in winter season, use of eggs increased and therefore, their prices could not be controlled.
The bench observed that it would give concession to PPA if it gave a written undertaking about poultry price and shortage control for all months except Ramazan.
However, the PPA members expressed inability to give such undertaking.
The bench observed that PPA could not be allowed to increase prices of poultry products on their own free will and therefore, ban on export of PPA products to Afghanistan via Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would stay.