Pakistan has linked transit of United States military cargo at the time of withdrawal from Afghanistan with certification that Washington would not transit any hazardous waste material and uranium ammunition through its land.
The decision reinforces Islamabad’s policy of barring transportation of lethal goods by the US forces through land route at the time of withdrawal from Afghanistan, expected to start from next year.
The federal government took the decision on the basis of recommendations given by Inter-Ministerial Commission having representation of Nuclear Regulatory Authority as well. The government has notified changes in Customs General Order (CGO) of 2012 that governs the supplies to the Nato and the US forces fighting in Afghanistan.
According to the Customs General Order, Pakistan has allowed the US military cargo and non-containerised equipment to enter its territory at Torkham and Chaman borders. It adds, at the time of entry the US will produce a certificate that the equipment is “free of hazardous waste material, including depleted uranium ammunition as defined and classified in Basel Convention on the control of Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal”.
While talking to The Express Tribune, an official of the Federal Board of Revenue – the issuing authority of the CGO – said that the border officials were equipped to verify the claims of hazardous free materials. He said in this regard Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has given training to the officials concerned besides PNRA will also be involved in the exercise.
He maintained the US will by no means be allowed to transit lethal weapons and heavy military equipment through land routes. The official said according to the commission’s decision the prevailing security situation does not allow for any such move. The official said Pakistan’s perception was that the US would either airlift the heavy weapons or use northern corridor to transport their lethal weapons.
Pakistan has made another amendment in the CGO of 2012. It has decided to accept whatever value the US would declare of its goods that it will withdraw from Afghanistan and transport to the US through Pakistani territory. Under the Customs laws, the value of any good being in transit through the territory has to be declared for calculating duties.
“Under the international conventions, the duties are not charged on goods in transit so whatever value the US would declare would have no effect on our revenues,” the FBR official said.
The US and Nato supplies are now governed under an agreement, signed in July last year between Pakistan and the US. The agreement, according to defence ministry’s statement, had been drafted in light of the United Nations Charter and in line with the recommendations of the parliament. Under the agreed terms, the supply of ammunition is not permitted to Afghanistan but supply of weapons to Afghan National Army has been allowed.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2013.