Pakistan

Pakistani truck drivers have to pay bhatta to Afghan Taliban in Peshawar

The truckers bound for Afghanistan are being forced to pay Rs 5,000 extortion money per truck at the provincial city’s fruit and vegetable market in the name of the Afghan Taliban.

At the Peshawar district council, opposition leader Syed Zahir claimed that unidentified men were collecting extortion money from the truckers transporting fruits and vegetables to Afghanistan in Peshawar and those not making that payment got threatening calls from someone based in Afghanistan.
Speaking on a point of order, he said the truckers had no option but to pay extortion money.
DC declares matter dreadful, says will take it up with police for action
He distributed a receipt of Rs5,000 extortion payment to journalists and councillors.
The receipt carrying the logo of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Economic and Finance Commission had the truck’s number, the amount received, driver’s name and other details on it.
When contacted, several truck drivers and fruit and vegetable traders confirmed the extortion.
“I don’t know whether the people collecting extortion are the Afghan Taliban or not but it is true that money is being extorted from the people in the fruit and vegetable markets,” a vegetable dealer told Dawn on condition of anonymity. He said the illegal activity had been going on for around two months. He dealer said two unidentified people riding a motorcycle collected money from drivers as fruits or vegetables were loaded onto trucks.
“If the motorcyclists miss trucks inside the fruit and vegetable markets, then they catch them on the Ring Road to force drivers to pay extortion money before going away,” he said.
A fruit dealer said he and other businessmen couldn’t resist militants. He wondered if businessmen denied the militants extortion money, then who would protect them.
Opposition leader Syed Zahir demanded of Peshawar deputy commissioner Dr Imran Hamid Sheikh, who was present in the house, to take notice of the extortion. The DC declared the matter ‘dreadful’ and said the matter would be taken up with the police for action.

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