By Ikram Hoti
ISLAMABAD: Is Turkey the new poppy Helmand of Europe? Is the question worrying many key diplomats in Islamabad who are aware of the ongoing probe into the seizure of a 13-container load of poppy seeds (called Khaskhash in Urdu), which had been cleared by the Customs and had already been loaded onto a waiting cargo ship? What has set the alarm bells ringing is the realisation that only a highly organised network could have collected almost 224,000 kg of the commodity from small and medium traders, then packed it marked as rice, and bribed its way through Customs to ship the entire lot to Turkey, where a region is said to offer excellent soil and environment for growing poppy, which provides opium and which, in turn, is the raw material for producing heroin.
Sources told The News that the Anti Narcotics Force was probing the chain of dealers involved in building the necessary supply chain and arrests were expected in the next few days. The bulk of the poppy seed shipment, sources told, came from Helmand, Afghanistan, and from within Pakistan from areas of the Malakand Division, Bajaur and Momand belt of Fata.
The seized shipment had been gotten cleared from the Customs by a Karachi-based Pakistani export firm, M/s Spark Enterprises, whereas the recipient company in Turkey was identified as M/s European Spice, the Directorate of Customs Intelligence (DCI), Islamabad, confirmed to The News.
An intelligence official said details of this cache came with a lot of other material that indicated how the DCI had lately been pushing for physical checking of consignments at different Customs stations like the Model Collectorate, Karachi, Dry Port, Peshawar, and the Customs Station, Torkham, on the Pak-Afghan border.