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Pakistan sloshes on cheap Iranian diesel smuggled through Balochistan

Smugglers transfer Iranian diesel into storage tanks on the Dasht river delta in Pakistan (Photo: @Callsign_Ciphar/Twitter)

If there is something that is in plenty in a cash-starved Pakistan, it is diesel. Iranian diesel is making its way into large areas of Pakistan through speed boats operating in the ocean and in Balochistan’s Dasht river.

Pakistanis are using so much Iranian diesel that the country’s own diesel reserves are going up astronomically. In March 2023 it saw just 12,000 MT of diesel consumption as compared to 30,000 MT of consumption last year.

People are preferring to purchase smuggled Iranian diesel over their own diesel due to a big price difference between Pakistani and Iranian diesel. But how is this diesel flowing so freely into the country?

It is mostly the Baloch community living on both sides of the Pakistan-Iran border that has been smuggling the diesel into Pakistan. Twitter user, @Callsign_Ciphar has given a detailed account with photographs, videos and routes of how diesel from Iran is brought into Balochistan from where it is further transported to Sindh and Punjab.

Thousands of speed boats from Shahrak Maskuni-ye-Gavater in Iran’s Baluchistan-Sistan province bring diesel in cans along with other Iranian goods covering about 17 kms to reach the Dasht river delta in Jiwani in Balochistan. This travel from Iran to Pakistan is done through the Gulf of Oman.

The boats enter Balochistan through the Dasht river delta and travel northwards. Over the next 5 kms, the boats drop the diesel cans along the river banks where thousands of other people are at work – emptying the diesel cans into cemented tanks on ground, transferring these into storages or drums.

From these storage areas, which also have hotels for people to stay for the night, the diesel is then transferred into pickups vans and cargo trucks, which then use road routes to transfer Iranian diesel and other smuggled items to other parts of Balochistan, south Punjab and Sindh.

With Balochistan steeped in poverty and little infrastructure in the spread-out desert and mountainous region, the Baloch people on both sides of the Pakistan-Iran border have taken to smuggling. With the Pakistani economy creaking under poor governance, high defence budgets and political bickering, smuggling of packaged Iranian food as well as diesel has only increased.

With large quantities of diesel and other petroleum products being smuggled out of Iran, a US-sanctioned Tehran too is not complaining.

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