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Pakistan has emerged as transit hub for global narcotic smuggling

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Kabul [Afghanistan], April 12 (ANI): Afghanistan is the prime source of opium supply to the world drug markets and Pakistan is the transport hub with drug networks operating from the country using its drug routes to reach international markets, according to an article in Islam Khabar.

The article said the geographical location of Pakistan makes it one of the prominent drug transit points along the Southern route. It said Pakistan is also depending on the narcotic trade for sponsoring terror in India.

Pakistan shares 2400 kilometres of border with Afghanistan, which is largely porous. And this has served a

transit corridor for drug traffickers. Forty per cent of Afghan drugs transit Pakistan before they reach the international markets.

Tonnes of opiates and meth are trafficked from Afghanistan to the Torkham border crossing, Ghulam Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, from where they are sent to Lahore and Faisalabad, reassembled into huge consignments, the article said.

Then they are transported to Karachi and Gwadar, and fishing vessels in Makran coast are used for drugs transport to the South Asian markets. Balochistan has also been an important drug transit route in Pakistan.

Islam Khabar said around 60 alternative drug routes are working through the Balochistan province alone, with major areas being Chaman, Noshki, Chagaghi, Dalbandeen, Panjgor, Turbat, Gawadar and Jeewani.

It said Pakistan’s political leaders and the armed forces have been two groups with competing interests.

“The political instability has only prolonged the drug trafficking in the country and Pakistan has been a standard example of how the drug economy thrives when there is a nexus between the drug lords operating in Pakistan and the politicians, and between the drug lords and the army,” the article said.

“Most of the time the drug lords enjoy immense political power. Both the politicians and the army rely on the support of the drug lords to pursue their political interests. It is common knowledge that no drug business can survive without the tacit support of a section of the armed forces in Pakistan,” it added.

The article said Meth is easily available to college students in Pakistan and there are close to 27 million drug users in Pakistan, according to the country’s anti-narcotics force. The spillover effect of the Afghanistan-Pakistan drug trade is felt in the other countries in the region.

Islam Khabar said that due to India’s close proximity to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the narcotics that are produced in Afghanistan are smuggled into India via Pakistan.

“Majority of Afghan narcotics transited by road reach Punjab in India. On September 13, 2021, 3000 kg of heroin was seized in Gujarat’s Mundra port. On December 19, 2021, heroin worth 400 crores were seized, in the Indian waters off the Gujarat coast. In Punjab’s Ferozepur a huge amount of heroin was confiscated on December 26, 2021,” it said.

“The drug trafficking between Afghanistan and Pakistan is intrinsically linked with the Islamist terrorist organisations operating in this region. The drug economy has been the major source of funding for terrorism in the region. Pakistan is also depending on the narcotic trade for sponsoring terror in India,” it said.

The article said Pakistan has been using the illicit drug economy to sponsor terror groups in India.

“The drug-trafficking is going to be more problematic over the coming years with the re-rise of Taliban and will pose an acute threat over the regional security in South Asia. The Afghanistan narcotic challenge is of international concern,” it said.

With the control of Afghanistan, the Taliban has acquired control over the opium cultivation in the country. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) November 2021 Report, Afghanistan accounted for around 85 per cent of global opium production in the year 2020, and supplied to approximately 80 per cent of the world’s opium consumers.

The total value of opiates (opium, morphine, and heroin) was 9 per cent to 14 per cent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. Methamphetamine and cannabis are two other major drugs which have expanded production in Afghanistan in recent years.

After the Taliban takeover, the international sanctions, loss of foreign aid, and economic contractions due to COVID-19 have led to a relentless increase in opium cultivation.

When the Taliban came to power in August 2021, its spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced that they would ban the production and trafficking of illicit drugs.

But a few months into the announcement, it does not seem that the Taliban has any intention to ban poppy cultivation.

With Afghanistan facing its worst humanitarian crisis due to economic collapse and recurring droughts, the Taliban would not want to ban the drug which has funded its insurgency against the US and NATO-sponsored previous Afghan government, Islam Khabar said.

It said the Taliban needs the drug money to keep control over their cadres. Although drug production and consumption are un-Islamic, in their previous regime the Taliban did not ban the production and trading of opium cultivation for the longest time.

The political costs for the Taliban would have been a lot more if they had placed the ban on the production of opium and continued to be a patron of opium cultivation, the article said.

The drug money also played an important role in the Taliban’s rise to power for the second time and it would not want to jeopardize it, the article added. (ANI)

This report is auto-generated from ANI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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