Conflicting goals

The global drugs problem is being tackled in a variety of ways and not all of those ways are complementary

Editorial April 22, 2016
Interior minister addressing a press conference in Islamabad on April 11, 2016. PHOTO: PID

Little space in the media has been accorded to a complex problem of international relations, a problem that has a direct link to Pakistan. It was highlighted by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who was addressing a special session of the UN General Assembly on the global drug problem. Simply put, the global drugs problem is being tackled in a variety of ways and not all of those ways are complementary. There is a disjunction between the way some countries are seeking to manage the problem, particularly of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine; and the parts of the world that see hard drug production and transit as not just a matter of management but eradication.

The minister pointed out that there is an emerging trend in some countries to legalise illicit drugs with the attached risk that this will boost drug demand, a not unnatural conclusion to make. He said, and it is hard to disagree with him, that legalisation and the development of a culture of tolerance does little but “ignite the supply chain” and considering that Pakistan is a country along that chain, he is right to raise concerns. The liberalisation of drug regimes in one part of the world has unfortunate consequences in another. Pakistan has worked, with only limited success, to create a drug-free society — or at least a society that is not drug-tolerant. We have a robust and comprehensive legal policy to counter drug trafficking and are a leader globally in the seizure of illicit substances, with 342 tonnes being intercepted in the last year alone. As the minister correctly pointed out, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to the global drug problem, and the dynamics of the drug trade differs from country to country and region to region. We already have a serious and largely unaddressed problem of illegal drug use across the country, an unrecognised national emergency. The development of tolerant regimes elsewhere is bad news for Pakistan and does nothing to further international harmony.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2016.

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