In the post 9/11 scenario, Afghanistan has assumed the status of a major drug producing country in the world. It is producing almost 90% of the total world opium. Afghanistan being a landlocked country sharing a large border with Pakistan creates transit corridors for the drugs produced in Afghanistan. i
The production of such huge quantities of drugs has started creating strategic effects, not only in the region, but also across the world. Trafficking of Afghan drugs into Pakistan and the smuggling of precursor chemicals to Afghanistan continue to pose serious challenges to Pakistan’s Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and healthcare system. The proliferation of drugs and psychotropic substances– and the subsequent increase in numbers of drug addicts – is also an ongoing challenge. ii
Although not a comprehensive survey, the 2006 National Assessment of Problem Drug Use in Pakistan estimated the prevalence of opioid use in Pakistan at 0.7 percent of the adult population. iiiHowever, since this survey was conducted there has been a substantial increase in opium and heroin production in neighboring Afghanistan and a shift in trafficking routes towards Pakistan; it is likely that the prevalence of opioid use is higher.
" Pakistan is at the forefront of international drug control, with its law enforcement authorities being one of the first responders to drug trafficking originating in Afghanistan. We welcome our increased cooperation with the Government of Pakistan to fight illicit drug trafficking and organized crime in the country and in the region. To our donors, I would like to emphasize that the program still requires more funding and that full funding in the early stages will contribute to enhancing the overall impact of our technical assistance by 2014."
-Yuri Fedotov, UNODC, Executive Director
Combatting Opiates: A Strategy For Home and Abroad
Drug abuse must be combated through a balance between supply reduction and demand reduction activities, as they are complementary. The key element of Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Policy is to reduce demand by focusing on drug demand prevention and treatment of drug users. Following are the key components of the drug demand reduction strategy:
Demand prevention through education and community mobilization campaigns.
Development of effective and accessible drug treatment and rehabilitation systems
Carrying out a comprehensive National Drug Abuse Survey to determine the prevalence of drug addiction in the country. The following projects in the areas of alternate livelihood, area development, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts and community mobilization are being carried out by Ministry of Narcotics Control and Anti-Narcotics Force.
Pakistan is a signatory to all UN Drug Control Conventions as well as the SAARC Convention on Drug Control. Pakistan continues its policy of cooperation on drug related intelligence sharing, border management and joint operations against drug trafficking and precursor chemical smuggling. Pakistan is particularly engaged with Afghanistan and Iran for information sharing, border management and joint operations against drug- trafficking and precursor/controlled chemical smuggling. Pakistan will also seek international support for capacity building and training of LEAs, as well as technical support. iv
Pakistan collaborates in regional and international forums to counter narcotics trafficking – including in forums hosted by international LEAs and the UNODC – by sharing information and considering joint initiatives. Pakistan is an active member of the following international bodies associated with narcotics control.
Paris Pact Initiative
ECO Drug Control Coordination Unit (DCCU)
SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk (SDOMD)
Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC)
i.The United Nations. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: The transnational threat of Afghan opium. United Nations, 2009. Web. .
" Trans boundaries cooperation is all the more necessary as evidence emerges of the drug trade supporting militancy and terrorism that has threatened regional and global peace."
-- President Asif Ali Zardari
Pakistan is geographically vulnerable to drug trafficking, sharing a 2,430 km-long border with Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of illicit opium. Afghanistan remains the main country cultivating opium poppy, accounting for approximately 63 percent of global opium poppy cultivation. At current levels, world heroin consumption (340 tons) and seizures represent an annual flow of 430-450 tons of heroin into the global heroin market. Of that total, opium from Myanmar and the Lao People's Democratic Republic yields some 50 tons, while the rest, some 380 tons of heroin and morphine, is produced exclusively from Afghan opium. While approximately 5 tons are consumed and seized in Afghanistan, the remaining bulk of 375 tons is trafficked worldwide via routes flowing into and through the countries neighboring Afghanistan—including Pakistan.
As of 2011, Pakistan itself had over 1,000 hectares of poppy cultivation, concentrated in the restive Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on the border with Afghanistan. However, President Zardari since the start of his administration has spearheaded the effort to make Pakistan a poppy free country. This goal recently came into fruition on International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (June 26, 2012) when the UN recognized Pakistan as a poppy free country per UNODC statistics. As shown in the 2012 UNODC World Drug Report, Pakistan eradicated 1,053 hectares of opium poppy cultivation.
Cannabis is also produced in large quantities in the sub-region. Most of the cannabis trafficked in the region also originates from Afghanistan, and is illegally processed in inaccessible regions. The ramifications of drug processing in Afghanistan and trafficking throughout the region are felt globally. The UNODC estimates that Pakistan is now the destination and transit country for approximately 40% of the opiates produced in Afghanistan. Most processing takes place in small, mobile laboratories in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas although increasing instances of processing on the Afghan border with the Central Asian Republics have been reported. Opiate processing on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border have created a trafficking and a pervasive drug abuse problem since the early 1980s. (http://www.unodc.org/pakistan/)
" The international perspective of Pakistan's trafficking and border challenges is unavoidable, given that these issues are linked to Pakistan's neighbours. UNODC supports the GOP to define, project and coordinate internationally"
-The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
UNODC's program on illicit trafficking and border management (Sub-Program 1) enhances core capacities of Pakistan's law enforcement agencies (ex. ANF) to reduce illicit traffic and manage borders primarily through the provision of foundational and specialized training and equipment.
Sub-Program 1 strengthens information collection and analysis capacities of agencies that work to counter trafficking to enable the government of Pakistan to make effective decisions, both at the broad policy level and in designing high impact responses.
The international perspective of Pakistan's trafficking and border challenges is unavoidable, given that these issues are linked to Pakistan's neighbors. The UNODC has pledged its support to the Government of Pakistan to define, project and coordinate internationally.
Based on analysis of illicit tracking and border management issues in Pakistan, Sub-Program 1 is comprised of three outcomes and delivers twelve outputs.
" It is quite encouraging that Ministry of Health through National AIDS Control and Prevention Programme has taken concrete steps to prevent masses from HIV-AIDS infection as well as providing them effective treatment. At the same time it is responsibility of all to complement government's efforts towards an HIV-AIDS free society.
-President Asif Ali Zardari
The effects of the illicit narcotics trade go far beyond social deterioration—they also directly affect the health and well-being of Pakistani citizens. Production, trafficking and abuse of heroin, create an imminent risk of a HIV-AIDS epidemic in Pakistan. In particular, people who inject drugs are at risk of contracting HIV-AIDS and other infectious diseases due to the sharing of syringes and injection material. The trend of a concentrated HIV-AIDS epidemic among Key Affected Populations in Pakistan continues to be driven by people who inject drugs exhibiting the highest HIV prevalence at 27.2%. Like other Asian countries, Pakistan is following a comparable HIV-AIDS epidemic trend having moved from 'low prevalence, high risk' to 'concentrated' epidemic in the early to mid-2000s among people who inject drugs. i this is a prominent improvement but there is still much work to be done.
In conjunction with international and national institutions, President Zardari is committed to working towards a HIV-AIDS free society. President Zardari has internationally pledged his commitment by endorsing the Declaration of Commitment of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV-AIDS of 2001. President Zardari has also committed his administration to achieve the 6th Millennium Development Goal of 'halting and beginning to reverse the HIV-AIDS epidemic by 2015'. The prevention of HIV-AIDS remains the most funded programmatic area of the Pakistan's response. ii In 2010-2011, implementation of the 18th Amendment of the Constitution of Pakistan dictated the'devolution' of the Ministry of Health to the autonomous provincial level. The National AIDS control program now comes under the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination making the fight against HIV-AIDS a deep seeded grassroots effort supported by the national government.
Commitment and Action
The Government of Pakistan has maintained a continued response to the AIDS epidemic since 1987 through a close collaboration between the National AIDS Control Program (NACP), Provincial and AJK AIDS Control Programs and UN agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors, and a consortium of NGOs and CSOs operating at national, provincial and grass-root levels. Inclusion of people living with HIV representative organizations has also been a feature of this response.
Pakistan AIDS Strategy, 2012 – 2016
The NSF-II completed its five-year time-frame in December 2011. The NSF-III is therefore currently being developed, the process for which started in late 2011. Due to devolution, each Province is developing its 25 own provincial AIDS strategy tailored to their specific context with cost action plans. The final document will be a consolidation of the four provincial documents under one overarching framework entitled the Pakistan AIDS Strategy-III (PAS-III). The context of the PAS-III will be in line with the overall health and development strategies as well with international commitments and MDGs. The main goal of the PAS-III 2012-2016 is to prevent new infections, and to improve health and quality of life of people living with HIV, which will be achieved through grouping strategies, under three main objectives:
Increase the quality and coverage of HIV prevention services.
Increase the quality and coverage of HIV diagnostic, treatment, care and support services.
Improve response management at national, provincial and local levels.
The guiding principles of the PAS-III are the following:
Prioritization: The PAS-III is based on a prioritized approach in order to remain effective and feasible. Priorities are weighted, which means that certain strategies may be conditional on availability of additional resources.
Evidence based: Priorities are based on evidence from epidemiological, public health and social research from Pakistan, the region or globally.
Results based: It includes specific, measurable, specific and achievable objectives with targets based on the Universal Access principle as well as other international and national commitments.
Efficiency and sustainability: Globally, resources for HIV responses are decreasing and the same is observed for Pakistan. One overall strategy of the PAS-III is to increase sustainability, reduce reliance on external funding and integrate AIDS-related services into health and social welfare systems.
Participatory: The strategy is developed with inputs from all relevant stakeholders, including local, provincial and federal authorities, civil society including PLHIV and the affected communities, and development partners.
Gender sensitive: Gender is an important determinant for vulnerability to HIV infection and access to HIV services, and has therefore been particularly focused in this strategy.
All Information comes from the following source: i Government of Pakistan. National AIDS Control Program & Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination. Global AIDS Response Progress Report 2012. Islamabad: , 2012. Web. .
President Zardari and the government of Pakistan are committed to combating criminal activity and terrorism. Funds from narco-trafficking are used to support militants, buy weapons and equipment for conducting terror attacks. This illegal trade has helped finance major acts of terrorism across the world. By fueling transnational crime, narco-trafficking generates destabilizing dynamics in countries where narcotics production, transit, and consumption occur. Hence, it can be safely said that combating narco-trade will have a significant impact on domestic and international security.
To that end, in November 2012, President Zardari held a Regional Summit attended by the delegations of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to address that narcotics pose a serious threat, which transcends national boundaries and that the international community has a "shared responsibility" in working together to combat the criminal activity that fuels terrorist activity and violence around the world.
"Drug mafias have a nexus with terrorist organizations and crime syndicates. They are linked with arms smuggling, human trafficking and money-laundering. Heroin trade has grown across borders and is spreading death and destruction in the name of ideology. It is threatening the security of our countries. Regional countries should maintain real time contacts like hotline and develop common laws and drug codes to tackle this menace, which poses threats to the security and stability of the region. " -President Asif Ali Zardari addressing the Regional Ministerial Conference on 13 November 2012.
Pakistan regularly engages with regional and global partners to move forward on this pressing issue, to create an enabling environment where militancy is automatically defeated. The resolve of the nation to thwart terrorism shall never be shaken.
"Trading in heroin continues to be the financial backbone of terrorism. While withdrawing from Afghanistan last time, the international community also withdrew their weapons. However, the war weapon of heroin continues to play havoc with the peace process. "
President Asif Zardari, 16th NAM Summit, 31st August 2012
Historically, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been drawing a portion of their income from the opium and heroin trade. Large-scale opium production re-emerged in Afghanistan, promoted by the ousted Taliban, who started again to tax the opium trade. In parallel, international attention somewhat shifted away from drug control towards the fight against terrorism in the region following the September 11, 2001 attacks. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the value of the opiate trade in Pakistan is estimated at US $1 billion annually.1 In Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents draw roughly US $125 million annually from the opium farmers and traders.2 The funds generated from the drug trade can pay for soldiers, weapons, protection, and are an important source of patronage. Areas of opium poppy cultivation and insecurity correlate geographically.
The Government of Pakistan acknowledges the growing threat of narco-terrorism. President Zardari seeks to break the financing of terrorism via narco-smuggling. President Zardari stated, "Regional cooperation is all the more necessary as evidence emerges of the drug trade supporting militancy and terrorism that has threatened regional and global peace.3".
1. UNODC, World Drug Report 2012 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.12.XI.1)
2 The United Nations. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: The transnational threat of Afghan opium. United Nations, 2009. Web. . 3. http://www.narcon.gov.pk/index.php?lang=en&opc=5&sel=5"