Pakistan forms panel on illegal border crossings
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Pakistan’s apex court has constituted a high-level commission to file a comprehensive report on illegal border-crossings into the country from Afghanistan through Chaman and Torkham towns.
With its terms of reference yet to be defined, the panel is headed by the additional attorney-general and comprises additional advocate-general of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director Jaffar Shah and a senior officer from the customs department.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, formed the panel based on an appeal against alleged human trafficking. The commission was directed on Friday to submit its reports by Sept 1.
The Torkham border fell outside FIA’s jurisdiction because it was situated in the tribal region, where the security post was manned by the Frontier Corps (FC) and some local elders, Jaffar Shah informed the top court. He acknowledged people having no valid visa or passport could enter or exit Pakistan without any difficulty.
In response, Justice Qazi Faez Isa said the FC personnel had been deployed there to maintain security and not to check immigration. “It seems the FIA is not mandated to curb terrorism in the country,” he observed, asking if the government was sensitive to checking the areas where terrorists entered the country.
Describing the situation as alarming, the court said that the FIA did not have enough budget to deal with the challenge. “We have been informed many times the government is serious in fighting terrorism... But it has emerged that prima facie there is a gap between efforts and objective reality,” the court order said.
Containers laden with dollars would be seized at Chaman and Torkham borders if proper checks were conducted, the apex court believed, saying people were desperate to leave Pakistan and thus risked their lives. The FIA had done nothing to prosecute human smugglers, it regretted.
Due to the poor monitoring system, Justice Faez Isa, remarked anyone could illegally cross the border, where immigration laws were not strictly enforced. If the situation persisted, then the war on terror would not succeed, he argued.
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