ISLAMABAD: The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) claimed on Monday that its special team in an intelligence based operation in Killa Abdullah district of Balochistan seized 746 kilogrammes of heroin worth around Rs4.77 billion in the international market.
“However, smugglers managed to escape from the scene,” an ANF statement said.
The heroin consignment was packed in 225 packets and was being taken in a pickup on Quetta–Chaman Road in Killa Abdullah Abdullah, added the statement.
ANF said that acting on a tip-off, the personnel of the force were monitoring five routes simultaneously. As per intelligence reports drugs were to be transported from the Afghan border to settled areas, amid traffic rush during Eid days.
While manning a checkpoint in the hilly area of Gulistan in Killa Abdullah, the ANF personnel signalled a pickup to stop for checking, but the people on-board it fled, leaving behind the multi-billion rupee drug shipment.
With this catch of 746kg of heroin, the force has seized approximately 12,365 tonnes of narcotics in the past 17 years, according to official record provided by ANF officials to The Express Tribune. “With the present heroin haul, Pakistan has recorded highest seizures of narcotics in the world,” an ANF official claimed.
Officials of the ANF revealed that drug plants like poppy and cannabis have been cultivated over 500,000 acres this year. They said that barons of drug trade were operating from the lawless frontiers of Balochistan and the areas bordering Afghanistan and thus manage to elude the law enforcing agencies.
Recently, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator Rehman Malik observed in a meeting of this committee that an action plan is required to curb the use of illegal drugs in the country. “The country on the international drug trade route as it shares over 2,400km long and porous border with Iran and Afghanistan,” he observed. During the said meeting Malik had expressed concern that the big fish of the drug trade were roaming free, “apprehend them. We stand by you!”
While most of the drugs seized in Pakistan are consignments in transit meant for smuggling outside the country, the local consumption has increased to alarming levels putting pressure on national resources.
According to ANF documents Pakistan spends Rs4 a year on each drug addict in the country while approximately 8.9 million people (5.4% of the population) are substance abusers.
“Pakistan has allocated Rs27 million for drug addicts [in the budget],” ANF Director-General Maj-Gen Khawar Hanif told the Senate’s Standing Committee on Interior and Anti-Narcotics earlier this month.
“Unfortunately, there is no proper policy for maintaining rehabilitation centres in the country,” the DG observed.
Asked if drug money was fuelling terrorism, Narcotics Control Division Secretary Ghalib Bandesha said: “There is no direct nexus between terrorism and drug money in Pakistan. That is what our investigation has revealed.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2015.