Over 150,000 NATO containers in Karachi awaits to depart

KABUL: (MEP) – At least 150,000 ISAF containers are expected to pass through Pakistan Customs as NATO / ISAF forces depart from Afghanistan, sources told the News on Wednesday.

Sources added that currently such exports back to United States (US) have surpassed the coalition’s imports. Most of the exiting supplies are being handled by Pakistani bonded carriers.

The consignments to Afghanistan comprise of everything including gadgets, communication devices, vehicles, and latest arms and ammunition; the same is also now coming back through the Pakistan.

In February this year, US President Barack Obama announced that some 34,000 US troops in Afghanistan would have returned home by this time next year.

The move will reduce the number of US forces in the country by more than half. There are now about 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

The decline in trade has already affected local freight companies.

Pak-Gov, a dedicated wing of Maersk Shipping Line for handling of NATO/ISAF consignments has started to shrink as the staff is either being transferred or laid off.

At one time – on its own – the company used to handle over 100 import containers a month.

These have now been reduced to 4-5 containers while as many as 25-30 containers are being exported back in the same duration.

When contacted, a spokesman for Maersk refused to comment on the situation.

Sources further said that large-scale pilferage of supplies to Afghanistan was witnessed in past as scores of containers went missing. Later the American military products were found in the local market and even recovered from outlaws.

“Now, as the forces are packing up and their supplies are going back, even larger pilferage is feared,” sources said.

Sources in the shipping circles said that the containers belonging to shipping lines and their transporting vehicles were all insured.

Thus losses due to attacks and theft did not result in losses to the shipping lines or the transporters.

Sources said that the contents of the looted/pilfered import containers usually found their way to local markets as well as in the hands of gangs.

“Now as the export is started, history will repeat itself,” sources said.

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