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Cablegate: Balochistan - Meeting with Quetta-Based Trucking Firm

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RR RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKP #0349/01 3091136
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051136Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL KARACHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1401
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0860
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE 2763
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 4645
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0357
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1906
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0310
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHIL/ODRP ISLAMABAD PK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KARACHI 000349

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O 12956: N/A
TAGS: ECON ELTN ETRD MARR PGOV IR PK

SUBJECT: BALOCHISTAN - MEETING WITH QUETTA-BASED TRUCKING FIRM

REF: KARACHI 127

1. (SBU) Summary: In an October 16 meeting in Quetta, trucking
firm GSM said a majority of their shipments go to Iran, with
Pakistani rice the most common of a limited range of goods.
Conversely, Iran ships a wide range of goods to Pakistan, including
paraffin, kerosene, and industrial chemicals. According to GSM
Managing Director Attaullah Mengal, NATO supplies typically run
smoothly through the Chaman border crossing with Afghanistan, only
occasionally being held up by the Frontier Corps. End summary.

2. (SBU) CG Fakan, Pol, and Econ Offs met October 16 to discuss
Balochistan's trucking industry with GSM and Co. Managing Director
Attaullah Mengal. GSM is one of eight Balochistan firms registered
with the Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Association
(PIFFA). The eight firms together operate 140 trucks, providing
international freight forwarding. Of the 140 trucks, none are
capable of carrying refrigerated or liquid cargo. Mengal stated
that trucks are rented from Iran when need to transport special
cargo.

3. (U) Of the 140 trucks, all are Volvo or Toyota. Mengal described
it as a "shame" that there are no American trucks. He said he and
the other truck owners want new technology and to do business with
America. The major impediment is access to spare parts and repairs,
and lack of opportunity to purchase new trucks and equipment.

Trade with Iran
---------------

3. (SBU) Mengal said the majority of his shipments are bound for
Iran, where the goods are then distributed domestically or
transferred on to Central Asia. The border crossing with Iran runs
smoothly with goods passing back and forth freely with only nominal
border fees and a common transit document shown to border officials.
Mengal said only a limited range of items are shipped into Iran,
predominantly rice, and to a lesser extent bananas and mangoes,
while a comparatively wide range (approximately 80 items) are
shipped from Iran into Pakistan, including paraffin, kerosene, C6 (a
chemical used in textile and fuel production), chemicals used for
road construction, and vegetables and dried fruits.

Chaman Gate
-----------

4. (SBU) GSM also ships items into Afghanistan through the Chaman
border crossing, including NATO supplies. Mengal explained how the
Frontier Corps (FC), which controls the border crossing, allows NATO
supplies through without bribes and with only occasional delays,
while other "illegal goods" are regularly delayed and often require
a bribe paid to the FC. (Comment: When questioned about the nature
of illegal goods, Mengal was unwilling to provide further details.
End comment). Mengal said that while the shipping route to Iran is
safe, there are occasional attacks and incidents of banditry on the
Afghanistan route, including on trucks carrying NATO supplies.
(Note: The FC regularly imposes delays along the route due to
security issues or for other reasons. End note)

Connectivity with Karachi
-------------------------

5. (U) According to Mengal it takes approximately 18-20 hours to
transport goods from Karachi to Chaman, if two drivers are used.
The road is in poor condition throughout, with the worst section
between Kalat and Chaman. Because of the poor condition of the road
network, items shipped to the west coast port at Gwadar (Reftel) had
to be transported back east to Karachi before continuing on to other
parts of Pakistan or Afghanistan. "It makes no sense...people
should just ship their items directly to Karachi and save the
shipping costs." He also complained that the Makran Coastal Highway
(National Highway N10), which links Gwadar with Karachi, was poorly
built and dangerous. "I'm not an engineer but the road is lifted
high off the ground for no apparent reason, resulting in many
accidents." He said the Japanese were working to improve the road
from Wadh to Lasbela.

6. (U) Mengal said the economic downturn and increasing diesel
prices have somewhat hurt his business. He explained that the eight

KARACHI 00000349 002 OF 002


PIFFA trucking firms in Balochistan set a standard shipping price,
but when diesel prices increase it takes months for their prices to
catch up - they often sign six month contracts with their customers.
When asked by the CG why the firms did not include a clause in the
contracts to account for fluctuations in the cost of fuel Mengal
appeared confused and said simply that the contracts had no such
clause.

FAKAN

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