Pakistan to scan all NATO containers

Published: July 6, 2012

Pakistani and Afghan soldiers keep watch as the first container truck crosses the border into Afghanistan at the border town of Chaman on July 5, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI / ISLAMABAD: All containers passing through Pakistan to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan are to be scanned to ensure they do not contain lethal supplies, customs officials said Friday.

Islamabad reopened overland routes to NATO convoys earlier this week after closing them in protest at a US air raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a border post in November.

A number of trucks have already crossed into Afghanistan, but the vast majority are still in Karachi, where they have languished for the past seven months.

Ties between Washington and Islamabad, fractious allies in the “war on terror”, plummeted following the air strike and blockade, which ended after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said sorry for the deaths.

The two sides are still rebuilding trust and officials in Karachi, where thousands of trucks and containers languished during the blockade, said there would be thorough checks to ensure the convoys conformed to parliamentary guidelines barring the transport of lethal supplies.

“We scanned the containers randomly in the past, but now every container will be duly scanned,” Karachi customs spokesman Qamar Thalho said.

“We can seize any item, anything that be, if it is not mentioned in the agreements between Pakistan and Afghanistan and Pakistan and NATO.”

An official speaking on condition of anonymity said the move was intended to stymie opposition parties and religious groups – who have criticised the resumption of supplies.

“A strict scanning of the cargo is just one important measure not to give enough space to the opposition to exploit public sentiments,” the official said.

Up to 1,500 trucks packed with NATO supplies have been stranded in Karachi during the blockade, unable to unload and find other work.

Rana Mohammad Aslam, vice president of the All Pakistan Goods Carrier Association, said 560,000 rupees ($6,000) compensation per vehicle would be paid to the truck owners by NATO subcontractors.

The land routes into Afghanistan are vital as the United States and NATO withdraw troops and equipment built up since the 2001 invasion.

The blockade had forced the United States and its allies to rely on longer, more expensive routes through Central Asia, Russia and the Caucasus, costing the US military about $100 million a month, according to the Pentagon.

Security for supplies

Advisor on Interior Rehman Malik said on Friday that complete security will be provided to all Afghanistan bound NATO containers travelling from Karachi to Khyber PakhtunKhwa.

Talking to newsmen Friday outside Parliament House, he said all Inspector Generals of Police have been directed to provide security cover to the containers within their respective remits.

Malik said Rangers and Police would provide security cover to containers in Sindh province while Police and Frontier Constabulary will escort the containers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

On fears that the long march of Difa-e-Pakistan Council against the re-opening of NATO supplies through Pakistan could pose problems, he said the public are “free to exercise their right of protest. However, strict action would be taken on any violation of law.”

No supplies through railways

Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour on Friday categorically denied that Pakistan Railways was providing any transportation service to NATO.

“We have no such information and the news published in a section of the press is baseless and has no reality,” the minister said in a press release issued adding information about provision of three routes for transportation of NATO goods was false.

The minister said “we are already short of locomotives to meet the local freight requirements, how can we give this facility to NATO.”

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Pasha-Nirasha
    Jul 6, 2012 - 2:59PM

    Pakistanis must start to use that thing sitting atop their neck. At the very least they should have suggested this after they had received the aid money.

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  • Mani
    Jul 6, 2012 - 3:07PM

    Shabashh!

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  • Polpot
    Jul 6, 2012 - 3:22PM

    Scanning Charges: USD 2500 Per Container
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Anyone?

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  • Khan of Cape Town
    Jul 6, 2012 - 3:25PM

    And the scanners will be imported from the US.

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  • Anon
    Jul 6, 2012 - 3:40PM

    By scanning all nato containers what they mean to say is that they will set a higher commission to all containers containing narcotics or other illegal substances.

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  • Hi There
    Jul 6, 2012 - 3:45PM

    @Pasha-Nirasha, maybe if you used that thing sitting atop your neck you would know this has obviously been agreed upon with US.

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  • Rahim
    Jul 6, 2012 - 3:56PM

    Troops needs there Guns and ammunition, if not then what are we letting through? can we see the agreement? They are not just after daily living items, what a rubbish statement.

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  • Feroz
    Jul 6, 2012 - 4:14PM

    Scanning the containers can bring nothing but trouble. If anything of value is discovered militant sympathizers will tip off the Taliban who in turn will loot those containers. Not an idea that will lead to the building of trust, in fact quite the opposite.

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  • Imran Con
    Jul 6, 2012 - 4:34PM

    Have fun?
    They didn’t carry much of anything lethal even before the drama started.

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  • Bharatvarsh
    Jul 6, 2012 - 4:39PM

    The boys must make sure that the scanners are not out of order just like the radars were on the fateful night of 2nd may 2011.

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  • Jadugar
    Jul 6, 2012 - 5:22PM

    The Govt. is trying to pacify and sugar coat the opening of the route to the opposition that they may face. Do you really think that containers will carry roses and flower to the ISAF

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  • Pasha-Nirasha
    Jul 6, 2012 - 5:57PM

    @Feroz: Good point. I guess that is what will happen. This so-called ‘scanning’ is done to ensure that the more valuable cargo can be siphoned off.

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  • Mohammad Ali Gaad
    Jul 6, 2012 - 6:09PM

    Great news and also step by Pakistan`s side that they are not leaving NATO to take lethal weapons with them and i am sure that The process of giving lethal weapons to Talibans by U.S.A will soon be ended

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  • BaBa Blacksheep
    Jul 6, 2012 - 6:23PM

    These containers would be checked by the custom officers but who will checks them?

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  • Truth Bites
    Jul 6, 2012 - 6:24PM

    so that means, they never scanned any container before? US and NATO may have been importing whatever they wanted regardless whats required or shipped for other very friendly countries too. Nice work, well better late than sorry! some mocking here the scanning, every nation has right to defend its motherland by all means they have got! Now if NATO or US want a supply route and Pakistan want to scan it then, they have all the right to bill for the equipment required for this. Hint: US scans every truck from Mexico!

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 6, 2012 - 7:32PM

    Yes sure ! You will scan all the containers ! So one assumes that Pakistan has the logistics and equipment to handle this too, addtionally will also ensure that the supplies do reach its destination safely across the border, without looting and bombed !!!!
    This is new Drama being played out to please the right wingers ! Nothing else!
    It never amazes me any more to see depths of stupidity being shown by people in charge to their own people, who incidently actually believe them !

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  • Saadia
    Jul 6, 2012 - 8:09PM

    Those who will scan the containers will be bribed and if not then people on the top are already bribed to pass any suspicious container.

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  • Baba Ji
    Jul 6, 2012 - 8:17PM

    Hahahahahahahahha !!!!

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 6, 2012 - 8:33PM

    @Baba Ji:
    Please, one has to respect the Esteem Rulers, who always seem to come up with new ways to enlighten their people as to their Ghairat being maintained !

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  • gp65
    Jul 6, 2012 - 9:05PM

    Hillary Clinton has said that the agreement allows for lethal material for ANF. How will this scanning differentiate between lethal supply for ANF from lethan supply for NATO/ISAF? This is just a way to pacify Pakistani awaam who is angry at this turn of events.

    When witll the establishment learn that manufacturing anger and then taking a U-turn is not a winning strategy? It was doen for Raymond Davis. Same thing for Salala now.

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  • Baby ka Husband
    Jul 6, 2012 - 9:58PM

    @Hi There:
    Can we see the Agreement as you are so sure?? A US diplomat states in this paper there is no agreement. So how can scanning be agreed with the US???? YOU should have ET recheck when they are making erroneous statements, says Baby.

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  • Imran Con
    Jul 7, 2012 - 4:09AM

    Just because I haven’t seen this common sense spoken by anyone: The trucks that go through Pakistan don’t even cover 50% of the total supplies shipped to Afghanistan. They don’t carry every type of supply. The US was not and is not unaware of the attacks and looting those trucks receive. It’s hard not to be aware of it. That’s why lethal things have usually come in by air. Not to mention one favorite thing for terrorists to do to them usually involve fire. That would also lead them to the conclusion that lethal supplies on that route is counter productive. You really don’t want to have added explosive things around a fire.
    The black market sales are also well known.
    The US/NATO are not as stupid as most Pakistanis want to view them as. The only thing this scanning accomplishes is being able to add extra padding to claims of demands being met for the Pakistani population’s ears.

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Jul 7, 2012 - 10:53AM

    If this is true and if this happening in real sense practically without any US’ and NATO’s officials interferences and pressure then congratulations that Pakistani customs’ officials have been so capable.

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  • Khalid
    Jul 7, 2012 - 2:37PM

    They are just fooling the public……do we seriously think that America will allow that?

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  • rkfromny
    Jul 7, 2012 - 10:11PM

    first they will have to beg US for scanners….

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  • Jul 8, 2012 - 6:35AM

    Tanks and armored vehicles, what they want to scan ? a TANK ?Recommend

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