Pakistan’s role in drugs smuggling poses serious danger to the region
Pakistan, accused of sponsoring terrorism, has also come under the scanner over narcotics smuggling
Ahead of the plenary session of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) scheduled later this month, the founder of AWiD (Afghan Women in Dialogue) Habiba Ashna Marhoon says that Pakistan’s issue of narcotics smuggling can derail its bilateral relations and besmirch its international reputation.
Writing in The Diplomat, Marhoon points out that Pakistan’s role in funding terror organizations through drugs/narcotics smuggling is sure to come up for discussion, as the FATF determines the country’s listing. He warns that blacklisting by FATF could spell ruin for Pakistan’s already dwindling economy.
Pointing out the speculations abound that Pakistan International Airlines has come under the scanner of Qatar authorities who have recently discovered narcotics smuggling modules by Pakistani nationals who arrive in Doha, taking advantage of the country’s Visa on Arrival (VoA) facility, he says that if the speculations are true then Qatar could suspend the VoA facility for Pakistan’s nationals.
Pakistan’s role in drug proliferation is validated by several arrests of its nationals in other countries on charges of drug trafficking along with the officials from PIA in 2017 and 2018.
The country leaves no stone unturned to take advantage of its geographic location next to Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of opium. The money generated from the drug trade has been used to fund proxy terror groups, notes the activist while writing in The Diplomat.
Talking of the geographical location, the Golden Crescent of South Asia – a region comprising Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan – is a principal site for the production and distribution of opium and heroin.
Three well-defined heroin trafficking routes originate in the Golden Crescent region. The Balkan route operates through Iran and Turkey and traffics the bulk of Afghan heroin to Europe. The northern route supplies heroin to the Russian Federation and Central Asia. Due to increased law enforcement along these two routes, alternate routes have emerged, collectively called the southern route, which traffics heroin to Iran and Pakistan, and from these countries, via sea and air, to other parts of the world.
“Pakistan provides a vital transit route for smuggling of drugs worth $30 billion from neighboring Afghanistan,” according to the United Nations World Drug Report published in 2012.
Marhoon further notes that Pakistan backs the restoration of Taliban rule in Afghanistan because if the group returns to power, all these drug cartels could be resuscitated and its major benefactor Pakistan will have even more funds with which to sponsor its proxy terror groups.