Rangers chief retracts arms containers claim

Rangers chief retracts arms containers claim
Rangers chief retracts arms containers claim

KARACHI: The director general of Sindh Rangers on Thursday retracted his allegation that former ports and shipping minister Senator Babar Ghauri had connived in disappearance of 19,000 containers loaded with arms and ammunition for US-led forces in Afghanistan.

He informed the Supreme Court that he wanted an investigation as to who was “at the helm of affairs in the Ministry of Ports and Shipping at that time”.The Rangers chief’s earlier statement had prompted the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to move the apex court requesting it to expunge the assertions and the American embassy to reject the claim regarding the theft of 19,000 containers of the International Security Assistance Force. The court had also appointed a commissioner to inquire into the allegations following the statement of Rangers Director General Maj Gen Rizwan Akhtar to the effect “that a shipload of arms and ammunition was brought into Karachi with the connivance of the then minister for shipping”.

The one-man commission, headed by a former customs officer, Ramzan Bhatti, was also directed by the Supreme Court to propose what action should be taken against the persons responsible. On Thursday, the commission submitted its report before a bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The bench was seized with the implementation proceedings of the apex court’s judgment in Karachi suo motu killing case. Justices Jawwad S. Khawaja, Khilji Arif Hussain, Amir Hani Muslim and Azmat Saeed are other members of the bench.

The commission’s report said that the Rangers DG in his reply to the commission denied his statement recorded by the apex court. “Therefore, no need was felt to further investigate the alleged involvement or connivance of the then minister for ports and shipping,” the report said.It quoted the Rangers DG as claiming that “no name of any minister of the federal government was mentioned in my statement before the Supreme Court except the pointation for investigation as to who was at the helm of the affairs in the ministry of ports and shipping at that time”.

The commission’s investigations revealed that “hardly any arms and ammunition are being smuggled through sea routes” as “all the intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies which remain present at the sea ports as well as high seas have categorically stated that they have neither received any information regarding smuggling of arms and ammunition through sea routes, nor any information has been passed to the Customs to this effect”.

However, the commission was also of the view that despite the claims of intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including Maritime Security Agency and Pakistan Coast Guard, “there are chances that a merchant ship may bring arms and ammunition from neighbouring hostile countries, and while remaining in the high seas may transfer the arms and ammunition to small boats, especially fishing boats, which can easily berth at any place along the coastal line”.

The report quoted the Chief Collector of Customs Enforcement, South, as informing the commission that there were 39 places on the coastline where fishing boats could easily unload cargo and only seven places were manned by the customs department, while the rest had to be taken care of by the MSA and PCG.“It has been informed by different law enforcement agencies that the weapons/pistols used in Karachi violence are of 30 bore or 9mm caliber which are either locally made or of China origin.

However, collector of customs Peshawar has confirmed that AK-47 rifle of Russian origin and other small arms of US origin are available for sale in tribal areas adjoining KPK. The Customs at Hyderabad has also reported seizures of arms and ammunition at Peshawar. The Director Intelligence and Investigation (Customs) has surveyed the smuggling dens at Yousuf Goth and Sohrab Goth and has reported availability of arms and ammunition besides other contraband goods,” the report said.

Earlier, Sindh Advocate General Khalid Javed Khan submitted a report about steps taken to improve the law and order situation in Karachi.He said the situation had significantly improved since Rangers and police launched an operation in the city.The chief justice observed that Indian, Israeli, American and Russian arms and ammunition were trickling into the city.He said police and law enforcement agencies must cleanse the city of illicit arms at all cost, adding “even if they have to take some drastic steps like imposing a curfew”.

The judges said that police officials who took part in the 1992 and 1996 operations in Karachi were killed, but police failed to arrest those involved in their killings.The judges expressed displeasure and annoyance for the umpteenth time over continuous failure of federal and provincial governments to implement the apex court’s judgment on Karachi suo motu case despite a lapse of two years.One of them lamented that the court had issued as many as 20 directives to the authorities, but unfortunately only one of them regarding the payment of compensation to families of slain police officials was complied with.Attorney General Munir A. Malik filed a sealed report on behalf of the federal government claiming confidentiality for it. – Dawn