Donkey hides cleared by Punjab govt for export confiscated

Published October 17, 2015
A customs official takes out donkey hides from the confiscated consignment at the KICT on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A customs official takes out donkey hides from the confiscated consignment at the KICT on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: A Hong Kong-bound consignment of donkey hides cleared by the animal quarantine department of Lahore — the city from where the consignment originated — has been confiscated at the Karachi International Container Terminal just before its illegal export, it emerged on Friday.

The customs authorities confiscated the container after its physical examination that showed it contained 1,200 donkey hides and 2,500kg of goat hair and not what was declared in documents.

The government put a ban on the export of donkey hides last month following media reports that the animal is being killed on a mass scale and its meat is being sold in the country, particularly in Punjab, and hides being exported. The animals are reportedly slaughtered or poisoned to get an unblemished skin that fetched between Rs18,000 to Rs20,000.

The consignment, whose declaration had been filed by Trader M/s Nival International on Sept 6, was cleared by the animal quarantine department of Lahore despite the ban on the export of donkey hides.

“As a number of stories have emerged in recent weeks in the media that donkey meat is being sold as Halal meat in the open markets, our staff is on a high alert to check any illegal movement or action,” said collector model collectorate of customs at Karachi Dr Saifuddin Junejo.

A report on the seizure, he said, was sent to the collectorate adjudication authority for further proceedings under Section 179 of the Customs Act, 1969. He added that further investigation was under way and an FIR would be registered soon.

According to the customs staff, they received the consignment for examination on Oct 12 after it was cleared by the Anti-Narcotics Force.

“The hides were declared wet salted dried skin. However, on a physical examination, they were found to be salted dry donkey hides,” said assistant collector customs Dr Jaam Mohammad Imran.

The documents mention Mohammad Arif as the consignment proprietor but the matter is being pursued by Ibrahim Aqa who had been involved in another case of illegal exports, according to Dr Imran.

Quarantine clearance

The consignment, sources said, was cleared by the animal quarantine department in Lahore that issued a certificate of health to the Nival International on Sept 22 for products meant for export purposes.

The department certified: “The animal products (scoured goat hair and salted hides) were either inspected at the time of slaughter and certified to be free from signs of contagious and infectious diseases or the consignment has been satisfactorily sensitized.

“The consignment conforms to the current rules and regulations of the importing country. And, during the period beginning on Sept 22, 2015 and ending on Oct 21, 2015, transportation of the animal product to Hong Kong is authorized.”Export proceeds of donkey hides, according to the sources, has tripled within a year to over Rs135 million till June 30, 2015 from Rs44m the previous year. A single donkey hide, they said, earned between Rs18,000 to Rs20,000 per piece on their export, mainly to China, where it is said that donkey hides are used in traditional skin creams, gelatin for human consumption and other products.

“The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet considered the summary dated Aug 21, 2015, submitted by the Ministry of National Food and Security and Research regarding “Ban on export of hides of donkeys” and decided to impose a ban on the exports of donkey hides.

“It directed the Ministry of National Food and Security and Research to take up the matter with the provincial governments for effective enforcement of regulations and authorised it to lift the ban after certifying that regulations are enforced effectively,” stated the Sept 3 decision of the ECC.

Published in Dawn, October 17th , 2015

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