ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior, Rehman Malik said on Tuesday that around 70 per cent of Taliban’s income comes from managing and taxing the illicit drug business. This nexus between opium producers, mafia and Taliban has had a detrimental impact on security of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said.
Chairing the concluding session of a two-day Regional Ministerial Conference entitled “counter narcotics, enhancing cooperation for effective coordinated and sustainable narcotics control,” the Minister said world is facing US $58 billion narcotics trade.
He said there is a need to have a long term, collaborative and holistic strategy rather than sporadic destruction of poppy fields.
The minister said that Pakistan is fighting against narco-terrorism despite having meager resources, adding that “Our nation has suffered losses both in term of human lives and material ($80 billion loss in economy and over 45,000 people have been martyred in terrorist activities). Malik said Pakistan has launched concerted efforts against both the evils (drug and terrorism) simultaneously and added the drug menace being faced by us today requires a concerted action based on principle of common and shared responsibility.
He said Pakistan is major transit route for Afghan opiates with nearly 160 metric ton of heroin, which makes up 44 per cent of total Afghan heroin which transits through its territorial jurisdictions. “It is estimated that in 2010, total drug users in Pakistan reached about 8.1 million abusing opium, heroin including injecting users and hashish etc,” he said.
The minister said in order to address effectively the drug problem, government of Pakistan has adopted a comprehensive strategy with its main pillars Drug Abuse Prevention and Drug Abuse Treatment & Rehabilitation. He urged that effective preventive measures adopted, including upgradation of Drug Abuse Prevention and establishment of Resource Centre for Drug Control.
Pakistan crackdowns on drugs
The minister highlighted Pakistan’s efforts to control drug trafficking. He said that a Drug Abuse Control Master Plan for five years (2010-2014) was prepared to reduce the health, social and economic costs associated with drug problem. It envisages expenditure of US $125 million including substantial allocation for Drug Demand Reduction activities.
Highlighting the efforts of Pakistan’s Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in curbing menace of drugs, he said, “In
2010 we contributed 10 per cent to global heroin and morphine seizure, four per cent to global opium seizure and 19 per cent to global cannabis seizure.”
Similarly, Malik said Pakistan has been a major contributor to Acetic Anhydride (AA) seizures under UNODC operation and made two worlds largest seizure of Acetic Anhydride.
The minister said with regards to poppy cultivation since 2001, Pakistan has once again achieved the status of Poppy Free Country for the year in 2011 owing to untiring efforts of the government.
He said that according to UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated potential opium production increased from 4,700 tons in 2010 to 7,000 tons in 2011, reaching levels comparable to level of previous years.
In Afghanistan itself, potential opium production fell to 3,600 tons in 2010 but resurged to 5,800 tons in 2011.
According to World Bank, the drug business has grown 27% of national GDP in Afghanistan.
Interior Ministers and higher officials from India, Iran, Turkey, Russian Federation, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrghis Republic, Turkmenistan and representatives of UNODC attended the conference.
Earlier, Rehman Malik and Turkish Minister for Interior, Idris Naim Sahin held a meeting and vowed to continue efforts to boost bilateral cooperation, especially in area of anti-narcotics campaign.
The Turkish Minister appreciated efforts of Pakistan’s government’s for holding a ministerial conference on counter-narcotics and said Pakistan and Turkey enjoy strong brotherly ties which would be further promoted in the days to come.