Pakistan today finds itself at a crossroads. The dream of a progressive Pakistan, as visualized by our founding father Quaid-e-Azam, has been strained by a stream of social, political, and economic challenges. However, we do not face those challenges alone. In an era where the world is interconnected, no country can move forward by isolating itself. Progress and development have better and long-lasting results when they are part of international joint efforts. Countering growing militancy is one of our main challenges. Like other nations, Pakistan has also been the victim of terror seeded by extremists. Their horror knows no boundaries and as I have said before, terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, and organized crime need to be seen in terms of their root causes. They thrive on ignorance, deprivation and poverty. That is why our countries need greater cooperation to effectively tackle them.
This past year, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that the opiate market generates an annual turnover of up to USD$65 billion, of which USD$55 billion alone is heroin. While Pakistan is not a major cultivation source of heroin, it is estimated that 40 percent of Afghanista's heroin/morphine transits or is consumed in Pakistan. UNODC also estimates that revenue generated from Afghan opiate trafficking to and through Pakistan exceeds USD$1 billion annually. There is strong evidence that this money is both a direct and indirect source of terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and is deeply linked to the culture of criminal activity that it depends on for resources.
We are a transit country that is heavily affected by the social, political, economic, and health consequences of the illegal narcotics trafficking business. It is therefore important that the economic backbone of terrorism is broken not only to control the menace of terrorism but also to minimize its social effects in Pakistan and around the world. The trail left by trafficking and consumption goes beyond terrorism and crime in our nation. Production, trafficking and abuse of heroin represents a global threat and an imminent risk of an HIV epidemic in Asia and Europe as addicts are at risk for contracting HIV and other infectious diseases due to sharing and reuse of syringes and injection material that have been previously used by infected individuals. This is a serious situation that requires sharing the responsibility to find solutions together and pledging to step up a common response.
Drug consumption encourages drug production, and in turn drug trafficking finances terrorism. Therefore, all countries affected by this serious menace have a shared responsibility to tackle it cooperatively. Pakistan is at the frontline of the fight against drugs and terror, and we will remain committed to defeat this threat by proactively cooperating with our regional and global partners.
The road to a prosperous future needs continuous efforts from all the portions of society, including government, law enforcement agencies, civil society, and of course, outreach from the international community. We have the vision, the resources and manpower to overcome our issues. What we need is faith, national will, cooperation, and consistency in our policies.