COMMENTARY
 
Stolen from Britain, Sold in Balochistan
The Nation
March 2, 1995
Luxury cars, ranging from BMWs and Mercedes-Benz to Toyota Land Cruisers, are stolen from Britain and the rest of Europe, and–after crossing Europe, Turkey and Iran—they reach Balochistan, where they either change hands or are sold elsewhere at car showrooms in Pakistan’s major cities, including Islamabad and Lahore. In what appears to be a transnational car-theft racket, officials of Federal Investigation Agency, the Customs and Police higher-ups, provincial politicians and known car dealers across the country are the alleged culprits.

The process of steeling luxury vehicles in Britain and bringing them to Balochistan is quite simple. A person based in Britain, who is hand in gloves with his counterparts in the car theft racket in this country, leases a luxury vehicle through a British bank. He has to pay back the money in installments. When the vehicle is purchased, it is insured against theft and accident.

Once the insurance is guaranteed and the vehicle’s genuine log books are obtained, either the owner or his compatriot rides the vehicle, crosses the British frontiers into Europe—and, after nearly a week-long travel across the continent, Turkey and Iran, reaches Balochistan through Taftan, the crossing point at the province’s borders with Iran.

While the vehicle reaches Pakistan, it is reported stolen in Britain; where a futile search for this stolen vehicle goes on for some time. Since the vehicle is insured against theft, the person who purchases it on installments gets his money back. Not only this, he gets his share of the deal he makes with car stealers in Pakistan.

The British High Commission in Islamabad recently warned the Pakistani government to put an end to the car theft racket. However, so far neither the Federal government nor the Balochistan government has taken any credible action in this regard. The most interesting part of this racket, which custom officials also confirm, is that even if the vehicle is a stolen one, if the one who brings it from abroad pays customs duty, the vehicle is officially registered.

Currently some four such vehicles stolen from Britain, including two land cruisers and a Mercedes, are in the custody of the Customs House in Quetta. They were stolen and brought to the Balochistan capital by a gang whose ring leaders are a former Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police and his son. Both live in Lahore and own two car showrooms on the city’s Jail Road. In this particular case of international car theft racket, which is just one among the many in recent years, four persons were nabbed by officials of the FIA in Quetta in August 1994. Two of them, namely Yahya and Amjad, were wanted by the Interpol. Some serving police officials and the owner of a money changer in Lahore are said to be behind the AIG-run gang of international car stealers from Lahore. Either after bribing FIA or Custom officials or paying the due customs duty, the luxury vehicles are brought to car showrooms in Lahore and Islamabad.