President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday called for creating a regional mechanism for exchange of information and coordination and to establish a drug court in the region to fight the illicit drug trade.
“The merchants of death do not recognise any political, geographical, ethical, or legal boundaries and are destroying the youth, no matter what passport they possess,” President Zardari said during the inaugural session of the Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter Narcotics at the presidency.
The president said heroin trade does not flourish in a vacuum and is linked with terrorist networks in the region. He said money from heroin trade is being used to finance terror operations.
The president said that campaigns against narcotics trade could not succeed alone. “We will conquer the heroin trade only through collective action.”
He said the challenge required close cooperation and proposed that the concerned offices should maintain real-time contact, like a hotline amongst the heads of narcotics control agencies, for better coordination in dealing with illicit drug trafficking.
He said that, according to the UN, opium production has increased by over 3,000 per cent and revenues from heroin trade have also been steadily rising during the past decade.
He, however, said the problem was much older and went further back in history. It goes back to the choices made during the ‘70s and ‘80s. “That was the time when heroin was created as a war weapon by the world community to fight rival ideology in the region.”
“After the war, the international community left the region in a hurry. Many things of that era have now come back to haunt us. One of these is the heroin trade.”
According to the president’s speech, illicit drug trade is now challenging the very foundations of all the countries in the region. He said the drug mafias had a nexus with terrorist organisations and crime syndicates. “They are linked with arms smuggling, human trafficking and money-laundering.”
Zardari said heroin trade had grown across borders and was spreading death and destruction in the name of ideology. “It is threatening the security of our countries,” he added.
He added the drugs trade threatened to destroy national economies and undermines good governance by encouraging crime and corruption, and promotes violence.
“Heroin trade threatens us more than it threatens far-off lands,” he said, adding that “we must be the one to fight back and we must win this battle. Failure is no option.”
The president stressed that no individual country or organisation can overcome the problem single-handedly.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2012.
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