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Pak black marketers 'smacking lips' after reopening of NATO supply lines.

Karachi, Aug 21 ( ANI ): The reopening of two key NATO supply routes through Pakistan last month has largely benefited Pakistan's black-market businesses.

Pakistan's active black markets, which stretch from Karachi to Peshawar, and from Quetta to the northern tribal belt, used to be flooded with U.S.-made goods. However, the underground economy, which largely depends on the NATO supply trucks for supplies, dried up when the supply routes were blocked by Pakistan for almost seven months. As a result, the thousands of Pakistanis who depended on it for income and cheap supplies were badly affected, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

"Our business had really gone down (due to closure of NATO supply routes). But, thank God, things have been settled down, and we are going to reactivate our business," said an arms dealer from Quetta.

The arms dealer said prices of U.S.-made weapons and other military equipment have shot up as they have become difficult to get.

"Not only the M-4 rifle, but prices of other military equipment like communication devices, small pistols, night vision goggles, binoculars, caps, and flak jackets have also gone up," said a dealer, whose clientele includes both Taliban and anti-Taliban buyers.

However, prices are likely to normalize now that the two sides have inked an agreement to reopen routes, the paper said.

The Federal Board of Revenue has said that Pakistan's black market had grown to more than half the size of the formal economy, according to a researcher. Karachi-based economist Shahid Hassan Siddiqui says that more than 50 percent of Pakistan's total economy depends on the black market.

"Pakistan is one of a very few countries where government actually facilitates black economy through laws, which has brought the country's tax to GDP ratio lowest in the world," said Siddiqui.

According to intelligence sources, almost 70-75 percent of U.S.-made weapons in Pakistan make their way into the black market through Afghan smugglers who buy these weapons from Afghan soldiers and policemen. The remaining 25 percent of illegal items are sold by different local militant groups who also use the NATO supply routes to transport them, the paper added. ( ANI )

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Publication:Asian News International
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Aug 21, 2012
Words:374
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