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No negative list for ISAF cargo under transit law, National Assembly body told

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce informed that Pakistani officials have no right to check NATO’s containers nor they have any authority to stop any item. The committee met under the presiding of its Chairman Engineer Khurram Dastageer here on Friday.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) presented a paper before the committee regarding the legal and procedural arrangements governing NATO and ISAF Transit Facility.

According to the FBR’ paper, Pakistan granted the transit facility to ISAF and NATO on 20th December 2001 under UN Resolution. Consequently, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Defence, Government of Pakistan, and the Ministry of Defence, Government of UK and Northern Ireland acting as a lead nation for the ISAF in Afghanistan (Annex-II) was issued in 2002 covering such goods.

Under the transit facility, the Pakistani authorities have no right to examine to the goods has been envisaged; Officer commanding of the sad BASE or UN bodies shall designate an officer/authorized agent to intact with the Pakistan Customs and to signed documents/ declarations in this behalf.

Duty and tax free import of personal and household effects (including a car) for a period of six months for Karachi based ISAF’ personnel. Duty and tax free import of food stuff, etc. (liquor tobacco) up to the C& F value of $200 on first arrival and then again prescribed monthly quota for the Karachi based personnel of ISAF.

“It is pertinent to mention that there is no negative list for ISAF and UN cargo in transit to Afghanistan. Ministry of Commerce had been allowed through a vide letter the liquor and tobacco to be cleared as foodstuff”, said in the paper.

While briefing the committee, the Member Customs, FBR, rejected the reports that 11000 NATO containers disappear in Pakistan. He said the confusion was create due to mistake of PARAL as it could not mention the containers in its computers, which had left the county via Chaman Boarder due to power off.

He told the committee that the ISAF opened its office in Karachi, where ISAF personnel are deployed. He said that the Pakistan Customs are trying for scanning and monitoring the goods of NATO and ISAF.

During the meeting, on quarry asked by the Chairman of the Committee about the authority, which issued order for halting the NATO containers and reopen the supply, the officials including ministry of Defence, commerce and the FBR could not respond exactly. Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce told the committee that on the NATO attack on Pakistani soil, the country respond on national level and the ministry is not in position to tell the committee that which is responsible. He said that may be the decision taken by the political and military leadership.

The chairman asked to the ministry of Defence to brief the committee on the procedure on near future and said the Defence Ministry has law then brief the committee and if there is no relevant law then the committee will make legislation.

He said that any authority and order will be worked under the law. He said that the committee’s concerns about the national security because no one is able to tell the committee who gave order for halting and resume the NATO’s containers.

The committee also examined the Trade Organization Ordinance 2007 and asked the ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Law and Justice that they present the comparative study of old and new law regarding the trade organizations and what will impact, if the law repeal.-SANA

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Haroon Akram Gill

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