ISLAMABAD The unabated tide of unprecedented timber smuggling, under the patronage of Government functionaries, has engulfed most parts of flood-hit areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Shocking revelations have come to light during the course of this newspapers investigations on the issue. Ironically, neither the Government departments nor the United Nations, which is playing a key role in flood-hit areas, are in possession of any data related to forests or timber loss in the flooded region. District Coordination Officer (DCO) Syed Mohsin Shah and District Forest Officer, (DFO), Inayatullah Masood, Haripur, a city that was focal area of timber smuggling in KP, say they did not have any related data in this regard. Likewise, concerned officials at United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), expressed ignorance over the issue saying that they had all the related information regarding livestock and crops loss but FAO was not in possession of any figures regarding forests or wood loss in the flood-hit region. Further probe into the matter revealed that Tarbela Lake was unlawfully sealed for four consecutive days by armed gangsters and rogues with the help of politicians that run timber mafia in that area. After all the woodpiles and trees were lifted and reportedly sent to Lahore, the lake was opened for public last week. DCO Haripur, who had confirmed imposition of section 144 in Haripur due to massive timber smuggling in his area, backtracked from his statement on Thursday. Presumably succumbing to political pressure, the DCO said that section 144 was not imposed and did not comment any further. Dr Faiza Rashid, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA), Pakistan Peoples Party, from Haripur, said that billions of rupees had gone to timber black market. I think Pakistan would not have needed the help of international community, had the Government exported the timber that is stolen, she opined. She demanded of her partys Government to take notice of the matter and bring the culprits to book. Gohar Nawaz, MPA, Awami National Party (ANP) could not be contacted as he was not answering calls and he switched off his cell later on Thursday. Apart from KP, Muzzaffarbad, Mangla, Jehlum and Rawat are currently used as 'depots for pervasive black timber market. Extremely precious windfalls of Deodar and Kail forests that were uprooted at the skirts of Neelum Valley had travelled through Neelum River to finally converge into Jehlum River. In addition to that, huge piles of trimmed and refined timber that belonged to private contractors, land lords and provincial forest departments are also dumped unlawfully at Rawat, in Rawalpindi district and Deena in Jehlum district. These consignments are first sent to their head office at Muzaffarabad from where the timber is circulated elsewhere. The entire practice goes on with the direct involvement of AJK Government. Numerous calls were made at Kashmir House as well as at the personal cellular number of AJK Prime Minister Sardar Attique to get his take on the issue but, as usual, he was unavailable. TheNation had first unearthed the timber scam on last Tuesday in its story title Massive timber smuggling on the rise. Soon after the publication of this story, multiple sources contacted this scribe to share further information pertinent to the issue.