In order to manage the country’s western borders and reduce illicit traffic, the law-enforcement agencies in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan will soon receive international aid.
To this end, the UK government and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed a three-year agreement on Friday, under which the UK government will contribute £3.6 million (approximately Rs548 million)to support the UNODC’s Border Management Programme in Pakistan.
The agreement was signed by the UNODC Country Representative Jeremy Douglas and the UK Deputy High Commissioner Alison Blake at the UNODC office in Islamabad. Additional Inspector General of K-P Police Khalid Masood also attended the ceremony.
The programme will provide operational equipment such as scanners and vehicles to the police, and also provide training to officials of the police and other law-enforcement agencies, said Douglas. He said the border provinces are challenged by transnational crime and a number of trafficking and instability issues, adding that law-enforcement personnel are often in need of training and equipment to perform day-to-day work.
Douglas said the K-P government is setting up a new training academy for police at Nowshera and the UNODC wants to contribute. “They have a new training academy coming up, so we want to offer trainers, computer-based training labs and equipment for the training facility,” he said. The training modules have been translated in local languages, which will help officers being recruited from local communities who have only received basic training.
Blake said the programme will help improve border management capacity between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “It will strengthen Pakistan’s ability to control its borders, both to stop illicit flows such as drugs that blight the region, but also to facilitate legitimate trade,” she said. The programme will also build the capacity of Pakistani institutions and foster international cooperation, she added.
“Both countries face an immense challenge in tackling transnational organised crime, which respect no boundaries and illicit trade flows,” Blake said. “Trade in narcotics and drug precursors devastates lives here and in Afghanistan and also on the streets of the UK and other countries around the world,” she added.
She said the illicit drugs trade is a major source of funding and is also used by extremist and insurgent groups to make explosives.
Douglas agreed that Pakistan’s western border areas are impacted by drug trafficking. “What we are aiming to do is also increase a lot of knowledge in the police on drug issues and increase the capacity of all the law enforcement agencies working there to deal with drugs and organised crime issues,” he added.
Masood said fighting militants has taken its toll on the K-P police force. Just in the past three months, the K-P Police lost three superintendents of police in militant attacks,” Masood said. “In the war-like situation we have, more than 500 police officers have been martyred.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2012.