Fact-check: Is sugar, hidden in cement bags, being smuggled into Afghanistan?
Two senior officials, as well as official documents, confirm that the trucks were legally transporting sugar and cement across the Torkham border
Updated Monday May 08 2023
A video viewed tens of thousands of times is said to show sugar being illegally transported out of Pakistan into Afghanistan, stashed in trucks meant to carry cement.
The claim is false.
On April 25, a Twitter user posted a short clip which purportedly showed containers toppled over as sacks filled with sugar pouring out.
In the footage, a man speaking in the Pashto language says that a landslide had knocked the trucks over. He adds that the trucks were meant to transport cement across the border, but were instead being used to smuggle sugar out of Pakistan.
“A landslide near Torkham has revealed the black deeds of some people,” a Twitter user wrote sharing the video, “The sugar mafia is smuggling sugar in a cement truck.”
The footage has been viewed over 69,000 times and the tweet has been retweeted over 2,000 times, to date.
Another social media user shared the same video, captioned: “No media channel will report this news. Torkham landslide incident has exposed another deed. Sugar is being smuggled in cement trucks.”
The video, he shared, has been viewed over 89,000 times.
The claims are false. Two senior officials, as well as official documents, confirmed to Geo Fact Check that the trucks were legally transporting sugar and cement across the Torkham border into Afghanistan on April 18.
Mohib Khan, the assistant collector of exports of the Pakistan Customs, posted at Torkham border, told Geo Fact Check over the phone that five trucks, two of cement and three of sugar, were parked near an under-construction bridge when they were hit by a landslide.
“The sugar was not being smuggled,” he said, adding that Pakistan allows companies to export a certain amount of sugar to Afghanistan very year.
Khan shared a notification with Geo Fact Check dated March 13 issued by the Office of the Cane Commissioner in Sindh, who is tasked with procuring, pricing and distributing sugar in the province.
As per the document, the Sindh High Court has allowed 32 sugar mills in Sindh to export 1,500 metric ton of sugar each.
Khan also shared an official inquiry report into the April 18 incident at Torkham.
The report also states that the five trucks, two of cement and three of sugar, were scanned and declared to be “normal”.
“The export of sugar is allowed to Kiran Sugar Mills and Naudero Sugar Mills by the office of cane commissioner,” the report reads. The trucks bearing registration number KBL12271, KBL59296 and HRT26697 belonged to the above-mentioned sugar companies.
“When the landslide happened around 20 to 25 trucks were buried under the debris,” Iqra Shaukat, the deputy collector at Torkham border, told Geo Fact Check over the phone. “[Due to the landslide] the sugar and cement bags got mixed up which made people think that they were from the same truck.”
Shaukat added that the bags filled with sugar had “for export” marked clearly on them.
With additional reporting by Nadia Khalid.
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