ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has taken up a complaint relating to the export (alleged to be smuggling) of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially face masks from Pakistan to China, which Beijing has managed with lots of efforts.
“Due to rising cases of coronavirus, the Chinese ambassador in Islamabad had met different top Pakistan government leaders to seek permission for export of face masks from Pakistan for which Chinese authorities had worked out agreements, placed orders and provided necessary funds to different Pakistani companies,” a top official told The News.
He said reacting to China’s request Pakistani authorities allowed export of face masks. China had ordered its companies to purchase any quantity of masks available from any country including Pakistan for their employees. It had made it clear to them that the masks so imported which would be in excess of their requirement should be provided to the China Red Cross Society for providing them to the areas where they were needed. The official said that China argued with senior Pakistani authorities that one-time relaxation of rules should be given so that it could cope with massive requirement of face masks at home.
According to the source, some officials have pleaded with the FIA to avoid delving into the complaint filed with it, alleging “smuggling” of PPE, because at a time when the health ministry officers need to completely focus on dealing with the paramount crisis of coronavirus, their summoning by the agency would divert their attention from the real job. A letter of the health ministry, a copy of which is available with The News, had allowed a private company of Islamabad to donate masks to Red Cross Society of Hunan Province for urgent prevention of coronavirus in China.
The letter, which was a no-objection certificate to export the PPE, allowed export to China of 14,300 surgical masks (PF2 professional) having model, specification Willson 5208 series; 75,000 surgical masks having model/specification of MEDIPLUS+; 40,000 surgical masks having model/specification of 3 ply disposable; and 1,000 medical protective clothing with model/specification of TYVEK cloth CHF4 Du Point.
The firm’s request for export of these PPE/medical devices to China, the letter said, has been acceded and it is permitted to export them under rule 27 of Medical Devices rules, 2017. A copy of the letter was also sent to the collector, customs house, Islamabad with the request to ensure that the specified quantity of PPE/medical devices was exported.
An FIA letter signed by the in-charge complaint cell/additional director general (North) asked the director of the Islamabad zone to take necessary action on the complaint pertaining to “smuggling” and submit a report within a fortnight. The complaint filed by a representative of the Pakistan Young Pharmacists Association (PYPA) Dr Furqan Ibrahim alleged that 20 million face masks were “smuggled” out of Pakistan with the help of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) and the special assistant to the prime minister on health for monetary gains.