KARACHI: The Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has directed rationalising number of check-posts of the anti-smuggling agencies, particularly those along the Karachi-Torkham and Karachi-Chaman highways and converting most of them into multi-agency common check-posts in view of their widespread corrupt practices.
The prime minister took action following a large number of complaints of corruption and rent seeking by the police, Excise, Customs, Rangers, FC and Coast Guard check-posts from the goods transporters plying at the national highways particularly along the Karachi-Torkham and Karachi-Chaman routes. Imran has warned the chief secretaries and relevant IGs, DGs of stern action for failure to take corrective and discipinary action against errant officers.
In the directive under the head of “Corrupt Practices at the Check Posts”, it was said this extortion under the garb of law enforcement and checking for narcotics is creating inconvenience for the public and increasing the cost of transportation and doing business. The letter said the scale of “illegal gratification” proves it is either connivance of the supervisory regime which calls into question their discipline. It also raises the apprehension that “the money so collected through illegal means is shared with upper hierarchy at different levels.”
Expressing serious concern, the prime minister directed revision of the SOPs for the check posts, reducing their number and converting most of them into multi-agency check posts with strong and effective supervisory roles. Setting October 5, 2019 as the deadline for this action, Imran has warned of action the supervisory officers and administrative heads of the relevant ministry, organizations and departments as well as the ground staff in case of non compliance of the directives. He also directed action against the chief secretaries, IGs, DGs for failure to take action against senior but errant management holders.
The administrative heads of police, Excise, Customs, Rangers, FC and Coast Guard were directed to submit a report of reforms and disciplinary measures to the PMO by October 5. The PMO has directed an evidence based survey to find out specifics of illegal extortion regime.
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir adds: Taking notice of corrupt practices at check posts established on major highways of the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued directive to reduce security pickets. “There is rampant rent seeking from goods transport in the country by plethora of agencies/entities such as Police, Excise, Customs, Rangers, FC, Coast Guard etc, through the mechanism of check posts established at National Highways i.e. Karachi –Torkham route and Karachi-Chaman route,” stated the notice issued from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The directive stated that the extortion by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) creates inconvenience for the public, corrupts the society and brings a ‘bad name’ to the country and government machinery. “This exercise of getting illegal gratification and extortion is ample proof of either weak supervisory regime or implied connivance of this activity,” the notice said. “It can be safely presumed that the money so collected through illegal means is shared with the upper hierarchy at different levels.”
Taking stern notice of the illegal practices, the prime minister has directed authorities concerned to exercise the following no later than October 5.
i-Sops be revised/developed by respective organisation/government to check and root out this problem.
ii- Number of check posts be reduced where possible and rationalised in coordination with other stakeholders/organisations who have established check posts nearby and be converted into multi-agency common check posts.
iii- Supervisory role be made effective. The directive also stated that if the task is not completed in the given time frame, action will be taken against officials of the relevant department. “In cases where no action is taken against the supervisory officer by the concerned administrative officer, action will be initiated against Chief Secretaries / IGs / DGs as the case may be.”