ISLAMABAD - Deputy Collector Customs Dr Abdul Qudoos Shaikh, who was critically injured in an attack during an anti-smuggling operation in Quetta, passed away on Tuesday after struggling for his life for six days.

An outstanding enforcement sleuth of the Pakistan Customs Service while enforcing the writ of the government in the difficult terrain of Balochistan was ambushed on the night of July 3 after a container loaded with smuggled high-value goods was seized near Kohlpur.

On his way back to his headquarters in Quetta, Shaikh was forcibly stopped near Gahi Khan Chowk by armed men on two vehicles.

They forcibly pulled the Customs official out of his vehicle and brutally assaulted him, leaving him critically injured in a pool of blood. He was brought to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Quetta, and admitted to its Intensive Care Unit.

“Such is the cost that the Customs Department pays for, in the line of duty, however, this often goes unrecognised,” a senior Customs official stated. As many as 10 Customs officials engaged in anti-smuggling operations have lost their lives in last three years, with dozens other injured.

Besides the fatalities, there have been notable instances of staff being kidnapped, especially in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, to browbeat the Customs Department, into submission along with damage to the State infrastructure.

The issue of smuggling finds its genesis in Pakistan’s border terrain which spans a distance of 7,888 kilometers, including 1,046 km of coastline. Smuggling across the western frontiers has flourished due to high import tariffs and transit trade with Afghanistan.

Main challenges to the fact are non-recruitment of human resource, low investment in infrastructure and logistics for the Customs.

According to data, the Customs Department has shown outstanding results in 2018-19, successfully seizing smuggled goods and currency valuing Rs 31.07 billion and collected revenues of Rs 1,748 billion.

In the absence of any new posts created and with the existing meager resources, the Customs recently undertook extensive re-modeling in which the organisation is to meet the future challenges of the enforcement domain.