Afghanistan shortchanged

Somewhere between Karachi and the Afghan border, billions of new Afghani coins go missing

After disposing off its old, devalued currency, Afghanistan launched its new currency — the afghani — in 2002. The new afghani coins are manufactured in Europe. They are then shipped to Karachi, Pakistan, from where they take the overland transit route through Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), cross the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and then on to Afghanistan’s Finance Ministry vaults in Kabul. Or so they should. But somewhere along the road from Karachi to the border checkpoints, billions of those afghanis go missing. It’s serious enough for President Karzai to call his Pakistani counterpart and seek help in solving the mystery.

Sources said that a team of Afghan diplomats serving at the Peshawar’s Consulate followed the two trailers that were carrying the coins from Karachi and were stopped at Torkham to check its weight.

“It was unbelievable to know that the containers were almost empty. Only nine tons out of 30 tonnes of coins were found in both the containers,” a source closely monitoring the situation told The News. “This is going on since long and regrettably nobody has noticed the plunder of our national currency,” a diplomat remarked. [The News]

And as the same newspaper report goes on to say, there’s a lot more that is being pilfered than just a lot of small change.

Update: They managed to get some of it back

Tribal mediators on Sunday helped (Pakistani) customs officials recover a large quantity of Afghan coins which were stolen from a container at Torkham on Sept 28.

The customs officials could not take any legal action against the culprits despite the registration of an FIR as the tribal areas do not fall under their jurisdiction. So they decided to turn to tribal mediators for help.

Over the last two days, the authorities have put increased pressure by sending a khassadar party to the Mumtaz Khan’s house. He was given a warning that his house would be placed under siege and his co-tribesmen would be taken into custody under the collective responsibility clause of the Frontier Crime Regulations if he continued to defy officials and did not return the money. [Dawn]

6 thoughts on “Afghanistan shortchanged”

  1. Pingback: Work In Progress
  2. That’s lot of change. The change is a good source for Taliban/al Qaeda to support their activities in Afghanistan beyond the economic damage to Afghan’s economy. Why would Mr. Karzai let the coins go to Pak in the first place instead asking the US for help to fly them directly to a perfectly working airport in Kabul?

  3. Nitin , I was wondering how many hits your blog – which I sincerely believe is the best blog by an Indian by far , gets per day on an average….just curious.

  4. May be send them from the Indian side of Kashmir by the road to Afghanistan under international\Afghani supervision. Iranians are not seeing eye to eye with EU\US right now, It would be too dangerous through central asia because of teh terrain, and Pakistani territory cannot be trusted.
    But just wondering why no Afghanis were involved accompanying their treasure, when everyone knew that the trucks would go through Taliban\al-Q infested territory.

  5. Sachin,

    I hate to break this to you, but India cannot send anything by road to Afghanistan without passing through territory controlled by Pakistan. And that’s just one reason why dropping claims Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is such a pity.

  6. 🙂 Thanks for the info Nitin.

    That was exactly the point. If India keeps thinking about ways to use the PoK territory which Pakistan holds illegally, it might have a chance of developing some international consensus. Kashmir is out in the open anyway, and Pakistan was OK with international supervision till some time back. Why can’t the presence of terrorist training camps be used to open Pakistani occupied Kashmir up a bit?

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