ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Saturday issued a sharp rebuke in response to India’s interception and seizure of a commercial consignment en route to Pakistan, labelling the action as an “unjustified seizure” and criticising India’s self-assumed role as a regional enforcer.

“Pakistan condemns India’s high-handedness in seizure of commercial goods. This disruption of free trade underscores the dangers inherent in the arbitrary assumption of policing roles by states with dubious credentials,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said.

Her comments came after media reports about the interception by India on Jan 23 of a Malta-flagged merchant vessel, CMA CGM Attila, near Mumbai’s Nhava Sheva port. The Karachi-bound ship from China was boarded, and its cargo was inspected based on what Indians claimed to be specific intelligence inputs.

Indian customs officials, according to statements made to Indian media, found an Italian-made computer numerical control (CNC) machine within the consignment, alleging its potential utility in nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and subsequently confiscated it.

Indian agencies confiscated goods on Karachi-bound ship

Ms Baloch clarified that the item in question was “a commercial lathe machine”. The intended recipient of the seized machinery has been identified as Cosmos Engineering, a Karachi-based firm that manufactures automobile parts and home appliances.

The consignment was seized after the port officials had alerted the Indian defence authorities, who inspected the heavy cargo and reported their suspicions. Officials in India were quoted as saying that the seizure fell under the “prevention of possible proliferation by Pakistan and China”.

According to Indian media reports, documents such as the bill of lading and other consignment details purportedly showed that the consigner was Shanghai JXE Global Logistics Co Ltd and weighed 22,180 kilograms.

“This is a simple case of import of a commercial lathe machine by a Karachi-based commercial entity, which supplies parts to the automobile industry in Pakistan,” Ms Baloch elaborated. “Speci­fications of the equipment clearly indicate its purely commercial use. The transaction was being conducted through transparent banking channels with all the relevant documentation.”

Criticising the Indian action, she remarked, “Such acts also highlight the growing impunity of certain states in violating international norms and taking arbitrary measures in violation of international law.”

Our correspondent in New Delhi also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2024

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