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Who was Seth Abid – A Pakistani ‘Gold King’

In April 1958, a passenger on his way to Lahore was stopped at Karachi Airport and 3100 tons of gold was recovered from him. When Karachi customs officials told the press handout that they had seized 2,000 tonnes of gold, the passenger in police custody corrected them that it was 3,200 tonnes of gold, not 2,000 tonnes.

The man was soon released from jail and only five months later appeared in a border village near Kasur, where he had to leave 45 gold bricks to escape the Amritsar police.

Six years later, the man came to light to avoid arrest by the Delhi Police when he was negotiating a gold deal with a Moti Bazaar trader in Chandni Chowk.

The man managed to escape from the police but one of his accomplices was caught and the police also recovered 44 gold bricks from him.

In 1977, a Lahore-based newspaper described the man as “a golden fugitive, an extraordinary man, a disguise expert and a fox-like cunning”.

The man was on the Pakistan and Interpol lists and often traveled to Delhi, Dubai and London. And this man was none other than Seth Abid.

Seth Abid, who has died at the age of 85, is also known as the ‘Gold King’ in Pakistan and is considered one of the richest people whose wealth depended on gold smuggling. ۔

To become the king of gold in the smuggling business, one has to establish one’s own networks across the border and also establish relations with the state elite and government officials. In addition, in order to establish one’s place in society, one has to establish a comprehensive system of goodwill on moral grounds.

Seth Abid’s rise came with the formation of the Pakistan-India border.

He was born and raised in the border region of Kasur, where members of his Sheikh trading tribe traded in leather from Calcutta before the partition of India.

Seth Abid moved to Karachi in 1950 when his father started a gold and silver business in Karachi’s Sarafa Bazaar. After meeting some fishermen who used to smuggle gold from Dubai to Karachi, Seth Abid stepped into the world of gold smuggling.

By the end of the 1950s, he had established a monopoly on gold smuggling in Pakistan with Qasim Bhatti, a fisherman.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed sorrow over the death of Seth Abid, offered condolences to his family and mentioned his donations to Shaukat Khanum.

Seth Abid is one of the smugglers who were very important in the Pakistani context of gold smuggling and smuggling economy.

His power was present in the port of Karachi, the Punjab border, the government administration and the political circles, but he could do many things on the other side of the border and beyond.

With interim contacts in London, Delhi and Dubai, Seth Abid ended India’s monopoly on gold smuggling from 1950 to 1980.

Seth Abid had acquired all these skills by the late 1950s, when his smuggling system had attracted the attention of agents in London, Delhi and Karachi, and had spread to the Punjab border between Pakistan and India. ۔

Initially, the system consisted of a network of close relatives. His brother, Haji Ashraf, who was fluent in Arabic, lived in Dubai, while his son-in-law, Ghulam Sarwar, often visited Delhi and met gold smuggler Harbans Lal.

Seth Abid’s name first appeared in the Indian press when the Times of India reported in 1963 that Pakistan’s ‘Gold King’ had ‘connections’ in India while his brother-in-law was in Delhi with 44 gold bricks. Has been arrested.

Charles Maloney, who works for British Airways, has been named Seth Abid’s “facilitator” in the UK. Seth Abid also went on Hajj every year and at the same time improved his relations with Arab Sheikh operators.

As his smuggling business expanded, he gave gold franchises to some agents living in villages in the border areas of Punjab, mainly from the Gharki Dayal and Awan communities.

Seth Abid’s name first appeared in the Indian press when the Times of India reported in 1963 that Pakistan’s ‘Gold King’ had ‘connections’ in India, while his brother-in-law was in Delhi with 44 gold bricks. Has been arrested.

Seth Abid had dozens of rivals but no one had the same skills, connections and capital. Unlike many of his rivals, Seth has never been charged during his long career, although several FIRs have been registered against him.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Seth Abid’s smuggling business flourished around the world, sometimes with state patronage, and his investments and assets in Lahore, Karachi, Dubai and London made him one of Pakistan’s largest. Added to the richest people.

Seth Abid’s extensive smuggling operations in the 1970s were hampered by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s rule and some of his assets were seized.

Something unexpected happened in 1974. A major police raid on Seth Abid’s residence in Lahore turned up Pakistani currency worth about .5 12.5 million. Along with this, 4 million worth of gold and 2 million worth of Swiss watches were also seized. In the raid, Lahore police also seized three vehicles and a dozen horses that were used to transport illegal goods.

Newspapers headlined the news as: ‘The biggest smuggling case in Pakistan’s history’ and ‘Pakistan’s Gold King’, Seth Abid was accused of being involved in global smuggling operations.

Prime Minister Bhutto has set up a special tribunal for the Seth Abid International Trafficking Case

Set up tap The tribunal recorded the statements of dozens of witnesses, but Seth Abid did not appear before the tribunal despite several warnings.

The issue of Seth’s arrest not only became part of the daily conversation of Pakistanis but also became a test case of the state writ for the Bhutto government.

The largest operation in the country’s history was launched in Pakistan to search for the ‘most wanted person’, in which raids teams of Pakistan Army, Police, Rangers and Naval Guard were formed.

In September 1977, Seth Abid voluntarily surrendered to Zia’s military government “voluntarily” and negotiated the return of his confiscated assets.

Seth Abid’s residence in Karachi was also raided and a large quantity of foreign currency and gold bricks were recovered. In 1977, when the Karachi Coast Guard was informed that Seth Abid was coming to visit his ‘girlfriend’ in North Nazimabad, a raid was also carried out there but before that Seth Abid had fled from there.

In September 1977, Seth Abid voluntarily surrendered to Zia’s military government “voluntarily” and negotiated the return of his confiscated assets.

In December this year, the military government press reported that Seth had given Lt. Gen. Jahanzeb Arbab a large grant of Rs. 151,000 for the construction project of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center Hospital (JPMC) and the burn ward of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. Is.

Seth was no longer a business criminal but a determined “patriot” who was generously donating for the good of the state and society.

His fame was further enhanced when his name appeared in the country’s ‘nuclear program’.

The Seth Abid International Trafficking Case was debated in the Parliament of Pakistan in 1985-86 and was later taken up by the Special Committee of the National Assembly (SCNA) headed by Chaudhry Nisar Ali. In 1986, the Pakistan Central Board of Revenue allowed the return of 3,100 tonnes of gold, which had been seized by customs officials from Seth Abid at Karachi Airport in 1958.

Historians have been critical of Eric Hobbes Baum’s term “social bandit” ever since he argued that a few people in the history of crime could become more than just criminals and become civic heroes.

In the Pakistani context, Seth Abid is widely known as a man who helped develop Pakistan’s “nuclear program” and transformed his status as a smuggler into an urban legend.

In addition to setting up humanitarian organizations such as the Hamza Foundation for the Welfare of Deaf and Dumb Children, Seth Abid provided financial support to charities, including the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Lahore.

Although Seth avoided publicity all his life, he still gained fame. His name became nationally famous when he bought the Javed used by cricketer Javed Miandad in a Sharjah innings auction for his son during a TV show auction for Rs 500,000.

In addition to setting up humanitarian organizations such as the Hamza Foundation for the Welfare of Deaf and Dumb Children, Seth Abid provided financial support to charities, including the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Lahore.

In later life, newspaper headlines did not focus on his criminal activities, but on the murder of his son Seth Hafiz Ayaz Ahmed in the airline housing society owned by him in Lahore.

No one in Pakistan has raised money illegally like Seth Abid in the early part of the country’s history.

Throughout his illicit trading career, he played a number of roles: smuggler, gold trader, stock market exchanger, philanthropist and, above all, a huge real estate name.

By the 1990s, he had emerged as one of the city’s most resourceful property developers, with a wide range of properties in different parts of Lahore.

He also owned several properties in Karachi and relocated his assets to the British Virgin Islands after being named in Panama Lake.

There are many stories about their exploits in the world of smuggling. Newspapers, popular statements about him and even social media still portray Seth Abid as romantic and talk about his escape and glamorous life.

When the newspapers portrayed him as the ‘infamous Pakistani gold king smuggler’, Seth protested and presented himself as one of the people who made gold accessible to the general public. Delivered

Explaining his vision to the world about border work, Seth Abid told the editor of a Lahore newspaper: ‘Why am I called a notorious gold smuggler? I am providing cheap gold for my sisters and daughters’ weddings. I am doing great service to society and the state. Instead of any praise and recognition, I have become infamous.

Seth Abid is now dead but his personality can live on in many forms and meanings in the days to come.

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Raabta is the largest independent news publisher in Pakistan. Already a leader in Science & Technology, Raabta is bringing the same expertise and comprehensive coverage to Education, Business, startups, sports, and many other fields.
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