ISLAMABAD: Senior officers in the Balochistan police are facilitating the smuggling of billions of rupees worth of petrol and diesel from Iran, documents available with Dawn reveal.
According to a letter from the Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD) of the Balochistan government, addressed to the Establishment Division, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ashfaq Anwar, and his subordinates were facilitating oil smuggling from Iran to different cities of Pakistan and earning millions of rupees per month in the process.
The Balochistan government has asked the Establishment Division secretary to suspend SSP Anwar and initiate departmental proceedings against him.
Departmental inquiry ordered against SSP’s alleged ring in Balochistan
According to petroleum dealers, between 15-20 per cent of the total fuel consumed in Pakistan is being smuggled in from Iran. The smuggled petrol and diesel are mostly used in Balochistan and some cities of Sindh, including Karachi.
Oil sector experts agree. They estimate that around 0.7 million litres of oil is being smuggled from Iran to Pakistan every day.
Abdul Sami Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association, told Dawn that the quantity of smuggled oil may even be far more than has been estimated.
“In addition to vehicles, smuggled oil is also being consumed in factories, offices and shops to run generators and other equipment,” he said.
According to him, nearly half of all smuggled oil is consumed within Balochistan, while the rest is transported to Karachi via Dera Ghazi Khan. He alleged that law enforcement personnel were involved in this smuggling.
A former law officer from Balochistan, on condition of anonymity, told Dawn that the Iranian government had allowed Baloch people living in the vicinity of Iran’s border to visit Iranian cities; these Pakistani visitors brought petrol and diesel back with them. He said Turbat was the venue where the smuggled oil was filled into oil tankers for onward transportation to different areas.
According to him, the smugglers paid bribes at the border, at different check posts as well as the entry and exit points of different cities, in order to get the oil to their desired destination.
No wonder then that the charge sheet against SSP Anwar alleged that he was receiving “Rs27,000 per oil tanker and Rs7,000-8,000 per passenger coach” through his subordinates.
In addition, he is also accused of receiving “Rs8,000-10,000 on account of posting/transfer of police constables and head constables”.
The charge sheet also alleged that in order to show that the security situation within his jurisdiction was under control, SSP Anwar had strictly instructed the station house officers of his jurisdiction not to register any FIRs without his express permission.
The statement of allegations against the officer states: “You (SSP Ashfaq Anwar) were involved in promoting smuggling of Iranian petrol/diesel. For this purpose, you were patronising a special team of junior police officers who collected bribes on your behalf and promoted smuggling of Iranian petrol/diesel. The average monthly bribe from this illegal trade was more than Rs3 million per month.”
Ashfaq Anwar was appointed as assistant superintendent of police in 1997. He was a superintendent (SP) in Rawalpindi when former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at Liaquat Bagh. He was the head of the 36-commando team deputed for the security of Ms Bhutto.
He was on duty at Liaquat Bagh on Dec 27, 2007, when an attacker opened fire on the convoy of Nawaz Sharif at the Islamabad Expressway. Anwar was sent to help secure Mr Sharif and in his absence, Ms Bhutto was assassinated. He is also a prosecution witness in the Benazir murder case.
The last posting of SSP Anwar was in Jaffarabad, Balochistan, which borders five districts – Larkana and Jacobabad in Sindh and Naseerabad, Jhal Magsi, and Dera Bugti in Balochistan.
A senior officer of the federal government claimed that most of the Iranian oil is smuggled to Sindh through Jaffarabad. He said that senior Sindh police officers were involved in this illegal trade. He said they had been identified and inquiries were being conducted against them.
When contacted, SSP Anwar – who has been suspended in connection with the charges levelled against him – denied these allegations. He said that a departmental inquiry had been ordered against him and he would defend himself before the inquiry committee.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2015