Smuggling of animals to Afghanistan and Iran

Smuggling makes animals dearer
By Tahir Ali Khan
Monday, 15 Nov, 2010

DAWN.COM | Economic & Business | Smuggling makes animals dearer.

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RAMPANT smuggling of animals to Afghanistan and Iran is causing a sharp rise in the prices of animals and meat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Reluctance of the federal government to ban export and failure to check smuggling of animals and meat to the neighbouring countries could aggravate meat crisis.

“Prices of cows and buffaloes have increased by about 30-40 per cent against their prices last year. The cow and buffalo that fetched Rs30,000 and 40,000 last year are now being sold at over Rs40,000 and Rs50,000 respectively. This is because of scarcity of animals in the local markets due to their export and smuggling,” says Bashir Ahmed Malik, a livestock dealer in Peshawar..

Director-General of Livestock, KP, Dr Sher Muhammad, said the government had issued export licenses for about 0.25 million animals and 25,000 of these were to pass through the Pak-Afghan border at Torkham. “All animals going through to Fata are not smuggled ones. Exporters are also issued licences to export livestock. Fata also needs meat which is to be met as a matter of its right,” he said.

According to Dr Sher, the government has made arrangements to export animals and check smuggling. “Check posts have been set up both in the settled and tribal areas to curb smuggling. Proper record is being maintained of all animals that pass therein. As far as our department is concerned, we only facilitate legal export and see that hurdles are removed and sick, pregnant and breed-endangered animals are not exported or sent to Fata,” he added.

However, Sharifullah from Bannu said officials only man roads while smugglers have many routes for the purpose. “Unless all these routes in the tribal belt are blocked, the problem will remain. There is a need to increase the number of check posts and officials to stop smuggling,” he added.

“Smuggling is a regular and traditional phenomenon in the region. If it is regulated properly, business activities in the region can be boosted to earn foreign exchange for the national exchequer. The organised export of animals will develop the business into an industry which will boost meat and dairy farming in the area,” he added.

Minister for livestock Hidayatullah Khan said the government was trying to curb smuggling of animals to Afghanistan and Iran. But the long mountainous border and the law and order situation in the militant-infested tribal belt, is making the task difficult. Afghanistan shares around 2000km of border with Pakistan in the tribal belt adjacent to KP.

According to media reports, some influential people from Banuu are allegedly involved in animal smuggling and are minting money. According to an estimate, around a million animals worth billions of rupees are smuggled to the neighbouring states. This has to be stopped or regulated for the benefit of the people and the state.

Smuggling is not the only reason behind the ruminant shortage. Livestock losses in floods, increased levies, high transportation charges, high cost of breeding and raring animals, role of middlemen in their trade and bribes sought by police, have increased its prices. The Eid bazaar contractors in KP are also allegedly taking illegal levies from the sellers forcing them to increase prices of their animals.

“To check escalation in prices there should a complete ban on export of animals. Smuggling should also be curbed to prevent shortfall in local market. This is possible by making checks at borders efficient rather than restricting inter-provincial transportation of animals,” said Malik Taj Khan, a livestock farmer and dealer.

“The government should also import animals from Central Asian states in the short run. As a long-term measure, it should use the latest reproduction technology and breeding techniques to increase livestock population. Provision of fodder and feed to farmers at affordable rates, expansion of animal healthcare system and improvement in breed and animal-flattening programmes should also be ensured. It should also provide soft loans for at least one year to help improve animal health and production,” he added.

Bashir Ahmad Malik, a livestock dealer from Peshawar, said it was strange that the government had allowed export of animals despite the fact the local meat/mutton market was experiencing huge increase in prices. “The presence of adequate number of animals is imperative to stabilise and control prices.” he argued.


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About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

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