US military vehicles allowed transit to Afghanistan

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KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: The government has allowed the transit of military vehicles under US cargo coming from Afghanistan but has chosen to retain the ban on the passage of hazardous waste material and depleted uranium ammunition.


The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) issued a Customs General Order (CGO) dated December 14, 2012 to amend the CGO governing the same, issued in July 2012.


Significantly, the fresh CGO has been released just days after the disbursement to Islamabad of $688 million under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) head.


“The date of the CGO is December 14, 2012 but it has been released on January 01, 2013, three days after the CSF payment was made,” said a source in Pakistan Customs on the condition of anonymity.


According to the terms of the new CGO, a US declaration of ownership is acceptable in lieu of the original invoice for cargo “consisting of military vehicles and non-containerized equipment” passing into Pakistan from Afghanistan at Torkham and Chaman.


However, the CGO also stipulates that the US cargo allowed entry for transit shall be certified as free of hazardous waste material, including depleted uranium ammunition, as defined and classified in the Basel Convention on the control of Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, in accordance with national and international standards.


“The US military may pull out its troops from Afghanistan in 2014 and we have taken this step to preemptively safeguard our national interest,” a senior FBR official told The News. “Unwarranted material such as uranium ammunitions will not be allowed to pass through our land.”

This CGO is the first attempt by Islamabad to clarify an ambiguity contained in the previous CGO regarding items prohibited for transit. Under the July 2012 CGO, the passage of military vehicles was allowed but due to an ambiguity in the definition of prohibited cargo. US cargo was defined as “non-lethal items, including US Department of Defence-provided humanitarian items like food, medicine, equipment, and material, and daily activity support items including those designated for US military, civilian and other personnel embedded with US forces or for US assistance to Afghanistan security forces; and military equipment, vehicles and other military property, but excludes the prohibited cargo defined.”


The July CGO was issued after Islamabad agreed to reopen supply routes into Afghanistan after the US said sorry for the killing of 24 soldiers during an air raid in late 2011 on a border post located in Mohmand Agency. Coincidently, the previous CSF payment amounting $1.118 billion was released by the US in August 2012, just after Pakistan formally announced the reopening of the supply routes.


Courtesy:  The News

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