$30b worth of drugs transit through Pakistan: UN report

Published: June 27, 2012
The country is free of poppy cultivation but provides a vital passage for drugs from Afghanistan, says World Drug Report 2012. DESIGN: MUHAMMAD SUHAIB

The country is free of poppy cultivation but provides a vital passage for drugs from Afghanistan, says World Drug Report 2012. DESIGN: MUHAMMAD SUHAIB


At the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2012, Pakistan may be free of poppy cultivation, but the country still provides a vital transit route for smuggling of drugs worth $30 billion from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Speaking at the launch of the World Drug Report 2012 on Tuesday, officials from the United Nations welcomed the decline in poppy cultivation in Pakistan. In the same breath, however, they added that the country is a major route for the smuggling of drugs cultivated in Afghanistan, primarily through Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, and that drug cultivation can resurface in these areas if the Anti-Narcotics Force is not strict in its surveillance.

One-third of drugs produced in Afghanistan are smuggled to other countries via the coastal areas of Balochistan, the UN officials added.


Global numbers

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the annual report about the state of drug cultivation, production, usage and transport in New York on Tuesday.

According to the report, at least 5% of the world’s adult population, or about 230 million people, are estimated to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2010. Some $68 billion is generated globally from illicit drugs annually, and is mainly used in terrorist activities, human trafficking and the smuggling of arms.

According to the UNODC, $27 to $30 billion worth of drugs are smuggled from Afghanistan, via Pakistan, to other parts of the world annually; of this, drugs worth $1.5 billion stay in Pakistan.

Drug abuse and illicit trafficking continue to have a profoundly negative impact on development and stability across the world, the report says. Heroin, cocaine and other drugs continue to kill around 200,000 people a year, bringing misery to thousands of other peoples, insecurity and the spread of HIV, the report adds.

Drug cultivation

Global opium production amounted at 7,000 tonnes in 2011, up from the low levels of 2010 when diseases wiped out almost half of the crop yield.

Afghanistan maintained its position as the largest producer and the country’s opium production increased by 61%, from 3,600 toms in 2010 to 5,800 tonnes in 2011.

High prices and increase in demand are making opium production more attractive to farmers in South East Asia, the report says.

Poppy cultivation in South East Asia jumped 16% – from 41,000 hectares in 2010 to almost 48,000 hectares in 2011. Overall cultivation of opium doubled in South East Asia.


Illicit drugs and related criminal networks undermine the rule of law, the report says.

Central America, for instance, faces rising levels of violence fuelled by transnational organised crime and drug trafficking. The region is now home to the highest homicide rates in the world.

Meanwhile, development in Afghanistan is being hindered by the highest rates of opiate prevalence in the world. In parts of Myanmar, farmers are trapped by food insecurity compelling them to grow poppies as a cash crop.

The challenge is also greatly testing West and Central Africa, which lies along one of the main drug trafficking routes to Europe.

Moreover, transit countries are no longer simply links in the chain of supply. About half of the cocaine trafficked through West and Central Africa now remains in the region.


The drug, crime and corruption conventions of the UN form a solid basis for global solutions to these challenges, the report states, adding that these instruments offer a balanced approach to halt trafficking, promote viable alternatives to the farmers of cash crops, and offer drug users their health and human rights.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Yaida M
    Jun 27, 2012 - 10:36AM

    Who said businesses are failing in Pakistan? If this is any indication, trade is booming !


  • Jun 27, 2012 - 10:44AM

    Pakistan should cut off relations with Afghanistan & close border
    & we should take electricity from china & gas from iran & let our County Prosper & DO Away with the Corrupt Officialism sitting as our heads


  • ahmed
    Jun 27, 2012 - 10:45AM

    So that’s the reason why we are so rich and our government is so poor.

    Outside of Pakistan, I hear stories about the devastating economy and how our government can’t meet expenditures etc etc….but the moment one lands in Pakistan, you see all those buildings going up, lavish malls, markets full of shoppers, everyone driving brand new cars etc etc…..and I would wonder where all that money was coming from.


  • ahmed
    Jun 27, 2012 - 10:46AM

    Forget oil and gas transit plans….we can make a lot more through this.


  • Syed Owais
    Jun 27, 2012 - 10:56AM

    Guess what, who is ruling in Afghanistan… NATO, US forces and Karzai clan, who is getting the money by harvesting poppy crops.. the same guys.

    So stop making Pakistan root cause of every problem in your backyard. Destroy the crops in Afghanistan.. give farmers other alternative so that they can meet their needs.

    BTW, how does it reach US and Europe? Any guesses?


  • A J Khan
    Jun 27, 2012 - 11:34AM

    To nib the evil in the bud, the opium crop should be eliminated in Afghanistan. International Agencies should ask the ISAF to do more in this regard.


  • Riaz Khan
    Jun 27, 2012 - 12:01PM

    Black money is probably twice as calculated previously! Guess who is making maximum amount of money?


  • Jat
    Jun 27, 2012 - 12:14PM

    Thats lots of money for the agencies, even at 10%


  • Imran K
    Jun 27, 2012 - 12:19PM

    So THAT is what the NATO trucks are carrying??


  • gtg
    Jun 27, 2012 - 12:34PM

    Oh man! I just read on UNPakistan website, 30Bil is the annual budget of UN all over the world! I don’t know whjat to say. 30Bil in PK, and I’m not amused by that news.Recommend

  • malik
    Jun 27, 2012 - 12:58PM

    Can you give us evidence that will stand in the Pakistani courts of law ?


  • Jun 27, 2012 - 1:52PM

    so long Afghani farmers do not have alternate source of reasonable income, poppy production will continue . The prevailing economic and sociopolitical situation of Afghanistan also encourages the production.. This is one of the the major source of revenue generated ( may be illegally). Either rule of law ( which is difficult to impose in the rough terrain) as well as the determined willingness and resources to impose the law only can initiate reduction in poppy production and its refining. Moreover there is also the thought that let the westerners be addicted to it which will damage their youth population( arose from the hate to western countries). They do understand that in the process their own population is also affected but this price is being paid.


  • Hassan
    Jun 27, 2012 - 2:14PM

    A major source of funds for US war in Afghanistan.


  • Jat
    Jun 27, 2012 - 2:48PM

    How do you think the Pak Army built this huge commercial and real estate empire ? Simply a combination of american dollars, drug money and nuclear proliferation.

    Imagine every core commander retires with plots and land worth tens of crores. In comparison, those Indian generals who are honest look like poor folks.


  • DevilHunterX
    Jun 27, 2012 - 3:33PM

    Tax it!


  • NATO
    Jun 27, 2012 - 4:08PM

    No surprise why the US is so concerned about resuming the route for NATO trucks..


  • Usman
    Jun 27, 2012 - 4:32PM

    I suspect CIA might also be doing some business also as some Hollywood movies also show CIA officers involved in drug business…


  • Mirza
    Jun 27, 2012 - 7:42PM

    Who is guarding Pakistani borders? It is free for all invaders, smugglers and terrorists. We love our golf and DHA. It is too hot on the borders in summer.


  • Vigilant
    Jun 27, 2012 - 9:24PM

    Does this figure counts towards GDP???,…….Just kidding :)


  • James
    Jun 28, 2012 - 2:16PM

    @Imran K:
    If Nato trucks were carrying drugs ,they would have happily paid the 5,000 dollars per truck that Pakistan wanted


  • James
    Jun 28, 2012 - 2:19PM

    @p r sharma:
    So long as there is a war going on,production will continue.Ever wondered how the Taliban and warlords posess the latest weapons.Drug money funds the war.


  • Vikram
    Jul 20, 2012 - 7:59AM

    Drug business is one of the reasons Pakistan wants to control Afghanistan. I think major portion of this money goes to Pakistan. Goverment has access to airlines, diplomatic channels for distribution.


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