Night vision goggles, anyone? We just got them from a NATO container

Published: April 5, 2012
Items meant for use by Nato forces in Afghanistan often end up in flea markets in Karachi. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Items meant for use by Nato forces in Afghanistan often end up in flea markets in Karachi. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS


When strolling through a flea market in Karachi, one would not expect to come across new uniforms intended for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) forces in Afghanistan. However, Mohammad Siddique, a shopkeeper in Jackson Bazaar, Kemari, claims not only to have such uniforms, but also new accessories like boots, socks, and knives in his possession.

Worried that the goods may be counterfeits? Siddique provides a “money back guarantee” to his customers in case they are not satisfied.

“US commando boots, safety shoes, army uniforms, glasses, knives, torches, tools, socks, beds and even night vision goggles are sold in Chaman and Peshawar,” says Siddique. Night vision goggles, especially, are considered a rarity for much of the Pakistani armed forces.

However, Siddique said that he does not display these items in his shop, as they are either stolen from Nato containers in Pakistan, or brought in from Afghanistan through the Chaman and Torkham borders.

Siddique said that he buys these goods at the Chaman border and the Karkhano Market in Peshawar, and brings them here in a goods container. He avoids keeping the items at the store because of fear of police and other security agencies. “I only bring them to the shop when someone demands them.”

“When the [Nato] supply was not blocked by Pakistan, dozens of containers used to be looted on their way to Afghanistan every week,” said Mohammad Islam, a transporter of Nato goods.

On the other hand, transport companies seem to suffer most from such activities, as they have to pay the cost of stolen goods to Nato in case someone notices the discrepancy.

Islam says that Balochistan is the most dangerous path in the Nato supply route.

Most of the containers are targeted as they are on their way back to the port from Afghanistan, as they contain both used and new goods. “They do not try and open these containers in Karachi,” says Islam.

A Nato truck driver based at the Mauripur truck stand in Karachi, Naeem Bacha, said that drivers often have links with criminal gangs, who attack containers and then give drivers a cut of the loot. “Without the consent of the driver or the owner of the vehicle, no one can even touch these containers,” said Bacha.

The next stage involves the criminals taking great pains to ensure that no one is able to trace the stolen back to them. Expert forgers, who are paid around Rs.20,000, are responsible for breaking the seals of the container and then resealing them later. After the container has been ransacked, it is filled with rocks, sand and cement to bring its weight back to the original level.

Bacha says that the police station of the area is contacted in advance and given the location where the container will be intercepted. “Police then provides cover for the whole operation.”

However, not all incidents go as smoothly. Major, another Nato transporter, recalled the ransacking of a German container, which was loaded with drinks, in Peshawar. “Police arrested its driver and recovered some of the cargo from him. I had to pay Nato Rs12 million for the missing goods.”

However, Major admits that the practice has turned truck drivers and transporters into millionaires in a short span of time, as nearly 95 percent of Nato containers passing to Afghanistan are broken into before they reach their destination. “Nato officials only started noticing this during the last three years, and have now started checking the containers.” Looks like Nato has finally caught up with the realities of doing business in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Amjad
    Apr 5, 2012 - 3:56AM

    Tell me what war zone zone doesn’t have pilfering of supplies and goods- read about how pilfering is factored in during WW2 inventory records. When the Soviets were in Afghanistan, I recall how so many Soviet war materiel would wind up in the markets of Pakistani too. What has changed ? Nothing. The Afghan forces are only too eager to sell off goods they get in aid too.


  • Cautious
    Apr 5, 2012 - 5:04AM

    Bacha says that the police station of the area is contacted in advance and given the location where the container will be intercepted. “Police then provides cover for the whole operation.”
    Says it all — shame on you.


  • khan
    Apr 5, 2012 - 5:05AM

    beggars and thieves we have become. Shameful… absolutely no integrity. The same thieves who are selling these items will take 100 rs bribe and attend DPC rallies. A degenerated, hateful, value less society we have become. What a shame if these reports are published globally.


  • Faesal
    Apr 5, 2012 - 5:10AM

    Maal-e-Ghaneemat anyone :)


  • zalim singh
    Apr 5, 2012 - 5:53AM

    i am in international trade. this happens. it happened to my goods.


  • Nas
    Apr 5, 2012 - 6:05AM

    and you call yourself muslims doing all this theft.


  • xzy
    Apr 5, 2012 - 6:35AM

    “I only bring them to the shop when someone demands them.”
    Now who would want to acquire night vision goggles, knives, safety boots everyone knows.


  • blithe
    Apr 5, 2012 - 6:48AM

    My Pathan brothers have always been exceedingly good


  • MarkH
    Apr 5, 2012 - 7:25AM

    Fun. Now there can be a counter conspiracy saying every time someone in a NATO uniform harms a Muslim it was an extremist who purchased it at a flea market.
    It’s not like the truth ever gets through to those types. They can be met on their own level.


  • Maulana tharra
    Apr 5, 2012 - 8:31AM

    Who has authority over KPT?Recommend

  • faraz
    Apr 5, 2012 - 9:00AM

    Is there any place in Lahore that sells these googles? I would love to buy one


  • Ramzan Ali
    Apr 5, 2012 - 9:54AM

    This article is an OPEN SECRET……………….


  • ALi Raza
    Apr 5, 2012 - 10:04AM

    How to become a smuggler anyone please ??? Will pay for guidance.


  • Reader
    Apr 5, 2012 - 10:14AM

    I want these cool boots!! Exact Address Please? :D


  • Jawad
    Apr 5, 2012 - 10:37AM

    Can i get the stuff in karachi, i’d like tools and accessories??


  • Apr 5, 2012 - 12:09PM

    Since 2008, when NATO started to notice the ransacking of their logistical shipments they have been supplying the ‘sensitive’ equipment through air cargo of C-130s. The only goods delivered in these containers are now food items, bottles of water, construction materials including desert tents, folding beds and military uniforms to some extent.

    I was thrilled when I saw British Forces desert body armor vests worn by people in Karachi during the winter time. The vests are shipped through logistic containers by road, however, the armor plates used in these vests are brought in to Afghanistan by air.


  • Vigilant
    Apr 5, 2012 - 2:24PM

    can i get knifes, NVGs and protection glasses in rawalpindi


  • Apr 5, 2012 - 3:00PM

    That happens in long wars


  • lol
    Apr 5, 2012 - 4:04PM

    Faked items.


  • RJ
    Apr 5, 2012 - 4:31PM

    hahha… Guys come to peshawar karkhano market. thy even have original ray bans, knifes, PS2s and much more stolen from NATO containers.


  • Bakir Mukeem
    Apr 5, 2012 - 5:33PM

    there are 5000 containers full of weapons, explosives and ammunition in the NATO supplies that have been blocked in Pakistan in addition to the 3500 armored vehicles for the US army. This is enough hardware to invade and occupy a country. The fact is simple – If Pakistan allows these supplies to go through, then there would be a massive war upon Pakistan within weeks as Af-Pak, Cold start and urban war of the 4GW would be deployed instantly. From Gilgit Baltistan to Fata to Baluchistan to Punjab to Karachi, we are on the brink of an explosive urban war.

    Ever since the NATO supplies have been blocked, there is a marked decrease in suicide attacks, BLA insurgency and cross border intrusions from the TTP terrorists. If Pakistani parliament release the NATO supplies, then their hands would soon be red with the blood of Muslims at the hands of crusaders and Hindu Zionists.

    Bakir Mukeem


  • ather
    Apr 5, 2012 - 5:50PM

    good news. pak army need not to buy things from europe or america. they can buy these in cheap from the local market.Recommend

  • Sabawoon
    Apr 5, 2012 - 10:24PM

    This is a perfect report, balance and informative.


  • salman
    Apr 11, 2012 - 10:16PM

    NVG Generation 4 and above how much they cost. i wish to buy one to monitor UFO’s activity.



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