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Desperate Pakistanis smuggle Iranian food to survive during Ramzan festivities

Pakistan has a food crisis while its leaders bicker (Photo: Twitter)

For the Pakistani masses this Ramzan has been about shortage of wheat flour and food inflation. At least 11 people have died while collecting subsidised flour, with riots being reported around trucks distributing free food.

Now Pakistanis are smuggling food items from Iran, through the highly porous and sometimes violent Balochistan-Sistan border. Pakistanis find that not only is Iranian food better in quality but is also cheaper. The smuggled food items include cooking oil, tomato puree, cheese and red chilli paste.

The shortage of food has lead to riots and stampedes over the past few months.

Pakistanis found Iranian tomato puree and the red chilli paste of much value when the prices of these vegetables shot up through the roof. Food inflation has crossed 40 per cent with the prices of cooking gas, wheat flour, onions, chicken often making news as this coincided with a steadily weakening Pakistani rupee.

Some of the food items have doubled in prices ensuring that the common man on the street goes without food.

Iranian food products have reached Pakistani cities through the Afghan border as well as the Iran-Pakistan border.

Smuggling across the Iran-Pakistan border into Balochistan has been omnipresent as that has been the only way for the impoverished Baloch masses to sustain themselves. Smuggling from Iran has also enabled the Baloch to get commodities that they could not procure in Pakistan.

Balochistan also has been importing power from Iran even as generations of Baloch men have been smuggling petroleum products and drugs just to make their ends meet. The tragedy for Balochistan is that even as it supplies gas to all of Pakistan from its Sui gas fields, the common Baloch have to depend upon liquified petroleum gas (LPG) from Iran which also comes in illegally through the border.

Ironically, due to mounting economic and financial woes in Pakistan, the smuggled products from Iran have now reached all of Pakistan. Last year a video from Pakistan became viral after a truck of Iranian tomatoes was attacked and the tomatoes scattered on the road by angry farmers.

With little industry or development in Balochistan, there are almost no livelihood opportunities in Pakistan’s largest province for the ethnic minority Baloch.

The Iran-Pakistan border smuggling has come as a relief for Pakistanis. Smuggling is not just through the tough land routes but also through the sea.

Also read: Baloch fighters attack Pakistani check post near Iran border, kill 17 soldiers

How political vendetta, murderous radicals and hotheads are turning Pakistan into a failed state