The army chief had told ‘his people’ that security personnel involved in cross-border smuggling would face court martial and arrests, caretaker Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said on Monday.
“If I say straight away that they [border security forces] weren’t involved in [smuggling], it won’t be right as the [smuggled] items are not transported via camels, instead they were being smuggled via trucks,” he said at a press conference in Islamabad flanked by interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi.
“And whoever was involved in it as Pakistan’s army chief has told his people very clearly that there won’t only be court-martials, but those involved in such activities would also be sent to jail,” he added.
Bugti was responding to a query pertaining to allegations that a lot of smuggling was happening under the nose of security agencies, particularly those serving at the borders, and some of them were allegedly involved in it.
The caretaker interior minister agreed with such reports and described them as “100% correct”. He went on to add that it would not be appropriate to say that it would not be enough that they were not involved.
The minister called for addressing the weaknesses.
Bugti’s media talk was centered around the anti-smuggling operations in the country that started last month to control the increasing prices of basic commodities and stop dollar hoarding. The caretaker setup, which would oversee the elections in January 2024, has been cracking down on smugglers, hoarders, and illegal immigrants.
In one of the press conferences, the minister also announced a cash reward for those citizens who will provide information on these activities.
On Monday, he reiterated that the economy was suffering massive losses before the crackdowns began.
The interior minister said that the government had managed to bring down the value of the dollar and was making more efforts to bring it down to its original value. Action had been taken against 168 currency smugglers, he shared.
The data on food had been gathered from all provinces and sugar smuggling had been clamped down upon using modern technology, Bugti added.
Around 10,195 litres of smuggled petrol had been recovered and action would also be taken against the pumps selling them, he said, adding that a crackdown had also been carried out against drugs and 43 metric tonnes of various drugs had been confiscated.
He also said that crackdowns against smuggling have borne fruit in cooperation with provinces.
Bugti reiterated his claims that the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, was involved in terrorism activities in Balochistan. No extremist activities in the country would be tolerated, he added.
The minister said that several apex committee meetings were being held to address the issue.
“This appeasement policy has always harmed the state and Pakistan. This monopoly of violence will always be with the state and not will be given to anyone else,” he said.
When asked, Bugti said that it was encouraging that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif wanted to take part in Pakistan’s politics. He clarified that his previous statement was “misinterpreted” and reiterated that any citizen would be treated as per law.
“Nawaz Sharif is that leader who came here along with his daughter to go to jail,” he stated.