Islamabad, September 15, 2023 – Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has reiterated the government’s commitment to a robust crackdown on illegal trade and smuggling activities.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Prime Minister’s House, he emphasized that a comprehensive management plan is being implemented to control cross-border smuggling effectively.
Prime Minister Kakar stated that the government has zero tolerance for those involved in the “smuggling industry,” and the law will be enforced rigorously against wrongdoers. His comments came in response to a question regarding Pakistan’s efforts to curb cross-border smuggling, particularly in light of the recent reopening of the Torkham border with Afghanistan after a nine-day closure.
Kakar revealed that detailed discussions had taken place on Afghan transit trade and the reopening of the Torkham border. The Ministry of Commerce, along with border management authorities and customs, has revised the trade policy to determine which trade items will be allowed or restricted.
Addressing concerns about the impact of anti-smuggling measures on the livelihoods of local residents along the border areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the prime minister emphasized that the people in these provinces deserve a legitimate and healthy trade environment, not smuggling. He stressed that the government is committed to providing relief to the local population through administrative measures.
Regarding Afghan refugees involved in cross-border smuggling, Kakar mentioned that an effective policy has been formulated. Afghan nationals living in Pakistan have been categorized into three groups: those registered with the government, undocumented individuals without a valid reason for residing in Pakistan, and those with fraudulent identities. Kakar asserted that those without proper documentation will be repatriated to Afghanistan, and strict visa regulations will be enforced.
The prime minister expressed concern about the previous lenient approach towards undocumented Afghan nationals, which had led to various social issues. He also highlighted the security risk posed by smuggling activities, including the potential for strengthening terrorist organizations and non-state actors. Kakar emphasized that counter-terrorism remains a top priority for the caretaker government.
In terms of governance priorities, Prime Minister Kakar stated that the caretaker government’s focus is on providing relief to the public, especially those affected by inflation. He mentioned that the government is considering offering easy installment plans for electricity consumers using up to 200 units of electricity in the near future.
Responding to questions about political and administrative corruption, Kakar emphasized the government’s commitment to breaking the cycle of corruption. He pledged to take action against those involved in misappropriation, following due process and without favoritism.
Regarding the inclusion of former civil servants Fawad Hasan Fawad and Ahad Cheema in the caretaker setup, Kakar clarified that they are individuals with a prime identity as former civil servants and have not been affiliated with any political party.
Finally, Prime Minister Kakar reaffirmed the government’s belief in the freedom of the media and emphasized that there are no restrictions on media outlets, even in criticizing the caretaker government.