The security situation and prevalence of drug and tax evasion related crimes has resulted in check post after check post in the city of flowers; and untrained officers manning these checking points has now become the bane of Peshawar’s residents’ existence.
Navigating major roads and entry and exit points in Peshawar has become a nightmarish scenario for those who commute on the city’s roads on a daily basis, as they have to make multiple stops to answer the questions of officials from the Police, followed by the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF), and lastly by officials of the Excise and Taxation Department. One such commuter, Waqas, narrated his recent encounter with officials of all three departments, whilst talking to the Express Tribune.
“As I approached the Motorway Toll Plaza, an excise department official asked me to stop and I did. After I was done answering his questions and started to drive off, a policeman asked me to stop. This was followed by a third check post of the ANF. The entire experience not only left me exhausted but made me question whether I was still living in my own country.”
Waqas’s experience is not unique. A female resident of the city, who works for the provincial health department and did not wish to disclose her identity, has had a similarly exhausting experience. “Not only do the officials of the three departments rudely interrogate you but it is also hard to distinguish who belongs to which department,” she remarked, further adding that the successive check points were an unnecessary hassle.
It is pertinent to mention that the hindrances in the name of security are not only causing traffic jams but also erasing the jurisdictional boundaries between the three departments.
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“Multiple departmental officials working on the same road but tasked with different objectives will only lead to inefficiency and corruption,” opined Noor Alam Khan, a lawyer based in the city, who has also been a victim of the numerous check posts.
“For instance, if someone is caught with drugs on a police check post, the ANF officials will try to claim credit, which will only lead to clashes between the two and the actual drug peddlers will benefit,” illustrated Khan, further adding that only one department should be given broad powers to check vehicles for security, drug peddling, and tax evasion. It is pertinent to mention that the solution Khan provided was implemented during the tenure of the previous government but it seems that with the dissolution of the previous government, the idea of one department in charge of check posts was also discarded.
In this regard, The Express Tribune spoke to the provincial Excise and Taxation Department Spokesman Muhammad Azlan, who claimed that his department had exclusive jurisdiction as far as tax and drug related matters were concerned.
“Officials of our department have the authority to conduct raids and blockades as and when required. If other departments have set up check posts near ours, then it is only for the protection of the city’s residents,” assured Azlan.