Islamic State smuggling timber into Pakistan, say Afghan officials

Published: February 10, 2016
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PHOTO: VOICE OF AMERICA

PHOTO: VOICE OF AMERICA

Islamic State is cutting down trees in Afghanistan and smuggling them into Pakistan on a daily basis, Voice of America reported.

According to Afghan officials and tribal leaders, timber-loaded trucks are sent to Pakistan daily, while some of the timber is sold in local markets in Afghanistan.

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Mohammad Rafique, a local resident of Kunar, Afghanistan, said timber is smuggled to Peshawar, as well as through Kandahar to Quetta and onward to Karachi and Lahore. Some of the timber is sent to Dubai from Karachi.

“Smuggling takes place … in areas alongside the Durand Line,” Malak Hashem, a tribal elder in Naziyan, said, referring to the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Locals in the Afghan province say the terror group has imported tree-cutting machines and has been cutting trees in the Achin, Naziyan and Dehbala districts of Nangahar province.

Further, tribal elders accuse the Afghan government of turning a blind eye to the smuggling.

“The government has done nothing in this regard,” Malak Afsar, a tribal elder in Achin, told VOA. He added that timber is transported to the markets by locals who work as middlemen for Islamic State.

The acting director of Nangarhar’s agriculture directorate said he had heard the reports, but that the tree cutting occurred only in one district. “Dehbala is the only district where tree cutting is still going on, and we are communicating with local elders in the district to stop it,” said the director, who goes by the name Engineer Shakir.

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However, an Afghan provincial government spokesperson said the issue of the cutting of trees had not been raised with local government.

Tree cutting and timber harvesting is illegal in Afghanistan but smuggling of wood has been going on for decades, especially in eastern Kunar province, which borders Nangarhar.

Officials say several militant groups, including the Taliban, have been involved in the illegal timber business. Local residents in Kunar allege the IS militant group is attempting to establish footprints in the province and has reportedly been recruiting locals to its ranks.

Forests cover only about two per cent of Afghanistan, according to Afghanistan’s environmental protection agency. However, United Nations Environmental Program says Afghanistan’s forest cover has decreased by about 50 per cent over the past three decades.

This article originally appeared on Voice of America.

Reader Comments (8)

  • anonmys
    Feb 10, 2016 - 1:28PM

    they should also write on smuggling of norcotics…..Recommend

  • Feroz
    Feb 10, 2016 - 1:39PM

    What a shame !Recommend

  • Feb 10, 2016 - 2:31PM

    Afghan officials cannot go outside Kabul, but always making rubbish claims,Recommend

  • Faisal
    Feb 10, 2016 - 3:00PM

    Then what, its all about Business.Recommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Feb 10, 2016 - 3:19PM

    Why does IS need smuggling to fund it. It gets money from OIL barons .Its pretty rich by itself .Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Feb 11, 2016 - 2:42AM

    Residents of the area should not remain a silent spectator, they should rise against timber cutters and stop them while engaged in operation of cuttingRecommend

  • Zaida
    Feb 12, 2016 - 9:38AM

    They want all Pakistanis to own wooden furniture. What is wrong with that?Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Feb 12, 2016 - 7:06PM

    There is nothing wrong. Problem will arise when they will start cutting trees in Pakistan after consuming all forests in Afghanistan. By the metros orange train fly overs etc are already busy in this business – who to blameRecommend

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