Combating drug, illicit trafficking pose threats to officials’ lives


Staff Report

Islamabad: As the world commemorated the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking last month, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi while addressing launching ceremony of World Drug Report 2019 had pledged his government would bring a legislation to effectively nab those involved in drug business.

The Ministry of Narcotics Control, Anti-Narcotics Force and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), country office Pakistan, in partnership with World Health Organisation jointly commemorated the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Islamabad last month.

Afridi said his government had launched a war on illicit drugs under the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, and the drug barons and mafia groups protecting drug business would be targeted in the first phase of the campaign.

However, it is worth mentioning that drug smugglers and mafias are extremely dangerous with deep regional and intercontinental connection, posing serious threats to the lives and families of officers who are fighting against the menace.

For example, recently in July 2019, a deputy collector of Pakistan Customs succumbed to his wounds at a Quetta hospital after he was attacked by smugglers following a raid.

Deputy Collector Abdul Qudoos Shaikh was attacked after seizing a container of smuggled high-value goods near Kohlpur, Balochistan.

Similarly, back in June, 2015, Customs Inspector Chaudhry Ejaz Mahmood was shot dead in Rawalpindi by unidentified gunmen who would have been a key prosecution witness in the money laundering case against fashion model Ayyan Ali and high profile political figures.

Saima Ejaz, the widow of the slain Customs Inspector Mahmood, had said that Ali was responsible for murder of her husband.

As the government of Pakistan and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Islamabad had close coordination, which helped busted several organized criminal groups, involving in drugs smuggling and illicit narcotics business.

In Pakistan, the officials who were on the frontline, fighting against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking were now leading low-profile lives because of multiple threats to their lives.

For example, Jajja (his surname) who was working with the UAE Embassy’s drug control unit in Islamabad had worked diligently to trace and help detained organized criminals involved in the Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and smuggling of narcotics in different parts of Pakistan.

Because of his active sources, Jajja succeeded to help nabbed notorious drugs baron who are now languishing in different prisons of Pakistan.

These all high-profile cases and detention of drug smugglers led Jajja to avoid publicity or public attention due to serious nature of threats to his and his family members’ lives.

“Not only Jajja but all those combating illicit drugs business need to remain low-profile because the drug smugglers are a constant threat to their lives,” Muhammad Irfan, a student of International Relations at University of Hazra, said.

Pakistan had become poppy free country since 2001 despite increased production of poppy in neighboring Afghanistan and it was all due to the efforts of past governments.

The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) has a total 29 police stations across the country with only 2,900 personnel available to curb illicit drug trafficking and control modern intoxicating soporific substances’ proliferation.

According to the world drug report, other routes take heroin out of Afghanistan via Pakistan to South Asia or Africa (the southern route), or through Central Asia to markets in the Russian Federation (the northern route).

The largest quantities of cannabis resin seized were reported by Spain, followed by Pakistan and Morocco. For the second year in a row, the largest amounts of heroin and morphine seized in 2017 were reported by Afghanistan, followed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan.

WHO Representative Dr Palitha Mahipala had said tobacco was the leading risk factor towards the drug use and, in fact, it was a first step towards that menace.

WHO has estimated that tobacco use, whether smoking or smokeless, is currently responsible for the annual global death of 8 million people, many of whom die prematurely.  This includes over 600,000 people estimated to die from the effects of second-hand smoke.

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