AMRITSAR

The most preferred mode of bilateral trade between India and Pakistan, integrated check posts (ICPs) at Attari and Wagah, is in the grip of hawala transactions and corruption, says a study conducted by Chandigarh-based research body Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID).

The report, prepared by professors Sucha Singh Gill and Davinder Kumar Madaan of department of social science, Punjabi University, Patiala, has been submitted to the Asia Foundation.

Talking to Times of India, Prof Gill said during the survey-cum-study it was found that under-billing by some of the Indian exporters in lieu of drugs, fake currency etc. being supplied by unscrupulous elements in Pakistan, was one of the biggest problems faced by the traders. Prof Gill said not only the Indian government lost customs duty on revenue but the nation also faced a serious security threat due to this. “The study found that 72% and 60% of Indian and Pakistani respondents admitted that ‘hawala’ or irregular payments occurred in the bilateral trade,” he said.

Around 24% of the Indian and 14% of Pakistani respondents said corruption and harassment at the custom stations on both sides of the ICP were affecting the trade. He said the study focused on various stakeholders, including importers, exporters, producers, freight forwarders and trade body leaders, from both India and Pakistan. Total 332 stakeholders, 230 from India and 102 from Pakistan, took part in the survey. The stakeholders in India were interviewed in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Tarn Taran, Firozpur and Jammu while their Pakistan count­erparts were interviewed in Lahore, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Rawalkot, Muzaffarabad and Karachi.

Managing director of Green Valley Organic Food Private Limited Hawa Singh Tanwar said he also faced the ‘hawala’ problem while sending consignments to the neighbouring country. He said he had once taken the matter to the court besides informing the Enforcement Directorate, customs and the police.

Gill informed that the issue would be brought to the knowledge of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal who was likely to attend a seminar on the Indo-Pak trade in August.