PESHAWAR, March 10: A counter-terrorism unit has uncovered sale of sugar meant for Afghanistan in local market by a company allegedly linked with remnants of the Taliban.

Well-placed sources told Dawn that the Special Investigation Group of the Federal Investigation Agency had recently found out that the owner of an Afghan trading company — Fazal Karim Maidanwal Limited — imported sugar for that country. However, he sold the commodity in the local market with the connivance of customs clearing agents and railway officials after its price sky rocketed in Pakistan recently.

The sources said that the SIG had frozen 31 bank accounts of the firm’s owners, Abdul Bari, his brother Abdul Baqi, and their sons on charges of funnelling money to Taliban.

The SIG had recently found that Abdul Baqi, owner of Afghan trade company - - had imported sugar for Afghanistan, but he, in connivance with the customs clearing agents and Pakistan Railways officials sold the commodity in local market to make huge profit.

The SIG in recent months froze 31 bank accounts of Abdul Bari, his brother Abdul Baqi and their sons on charges of funnelling money to the Taliban terror group through several trading companies in Pakistan and other countries.

Both the brothers were wanted by the Interpol in Kabul in cases relating to funding Taliban for terrorism. The Interpol late last year had asked the Pakistan government to stop them from importing or exporting foodstuff and had called for their arrest.

Abdul Baqi had imported nine wagons containing sugar for Afghanistan between June and Sept in 2004 and had sold seven wagons, cumulatively weighing 171.8 tons in Peshawar, official sources confirmed.

The SIG had last month asked the customs collectorate to give details about sugar imported by Abdul Baqi, official sources said.

But the custom authorities replied last week, saying: “Kamran Enterprises clandestinely removed 171.8 tons of sugar (3,436 50-kg bags) in connivance with Pakistan Railways officials and sold the commodity in local market. Therefore, the company evaded government revenue amounting to more than Rs1.55 million”. They, however, did not provide details about the number of wagons or their exact date of import.

The official reply did not mention any action against the customs clearing agent or the railways officials. The official reply to the SIG clearly accused Kamran Sikandari, brother of a former collector customs and the clearing agent of several trading companies owned by Abdul Bari and Abdul Baqi.

Customs officials said that they had taken departmental action on June 30, 2005 and fined the company, two clearing agents, a Pakistan Railways officer and a railway contractor.

Officials said that the customs had fined Fazal Karim Maidanwal Limited Rs1 million, border agent of the Malikdad and Company Rs1 million, commercial supervisor of Pakistan Railways Rs300,000 and railway contractor Abdullah Rs100,000.

But the Pakistan Railways got hold of the copy of the customs decision on Thursday, exactly after eight months and 10 days.

ABDUL BARI: Pakistan government, in its report sent to the Afghan government, had indicated that Abdul Bari had escaped to Afghanistan soon after the SIG’s raid on his office two months ago.

An intelligence agency reported that Abdul Bari had crossed the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan at Torkham. It said that the man was received by a top government official on the other side of the border.

“This is interesting. On the one hand, Interpol in Kabul is demanding arrest of Abdul Bari and his family members while on the other, the accused was welcomed by a top government official across the border at Torkham,” a senior official commented.

THREATS: A senior officer investigating cases of Abdul Bari and Abdul Baqi claimed that he had been receiving threats since he uncovered the bank accounts of the Afghan traders.

Mr Habibullah, in-charge of the SIG, Peshawar, said that recently someone had left him a letter at his home in his village in which threatening language had been used. “You will be sent to Kabul if you do not stop your activities,” he said, quoting a sentence from the letter.