In written order, Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan slams Pakistan’s federal government for allowing illegal activities to continue
The Lahore High Court on Thursday issued a written order slamming authorities for not only being aware of the smuggling of oil from Iran to Pakistan, but also seemingly allowing it to continue.
“This is not short of a shocking disclosure that one of the basic requirements of a country, directly connected with our security, was being completed through an illegal means i.e. smuggling,” Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan wrote in his order on last week’s proceedings on a petition against a nationwide fuel shortage.
During the proceedings, Petroleum Secretary Asad Hayauddin had informed the court that one of the reasons for the fuel shortage was a strict check at the Iran-Pakistan border in light of the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a loss of approximately 1.2 metric tons of petrol that is smuggled into Pakistan daily.
“Apart from the fact that such an illegal act is being conducted, it is very well in the knowledge of the authorities, still allowing such illegal activity to continue. It is a serious charge against all the concerned sitting on helm of affairs,” the order added.
Referring to the government’s inability to prevent the fuel shortage, the order stated that both the federal government and the federal agencies had failed to do their job, adding that provincial authorities had also not acted in accordance to legal requirements. The chief justice noted that uninterrupted supply of fuel was essential for everyday activities of all social and allied sectors, as well as to national security.
“Stoppage, shortage, hoarding of petroleum or lack of control on prices mean the responsible agencies are in a position to even compromise our sovereignty,” read the order. “This court is compelled to observe that prima facie it is tantamount to criminal negligence and once it is established from the record that the matter has been brought to the notice of the highest decision-taking body i.e. federal cabinet, still inaction on its part means the charge of criminal negligence cannot be restricted only to government functionaries,” said the order.
The written order dismissed the application, requiring the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority to pay Rs. 100,000. It also directed the OGRA chairperson to personally appear before the court in its next hearing along with the principal secretary to the prime minister. The petroleum secretary has also been directed to submit a report with an affidavit about the stock position of oil companies.
The next hearing into the case would take place on June 30 (Tuesday).