12 May 2005
UNODC Supports Pakistan in Campaign against Narcotics and Crime
VIENNA, 12 May (UN Information Service) -- Today in Islamabad, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), pledged increased cooperation between UNODC and the Government of Pakistan in the campaign to bolster security at Pakistan’s ports and on the country’s northwest border. Mr. Costa’s itinerary included a visit to Port Qasim, Karachi, a major transit point for Afghan heroin, and to Peshawar and the Khyber Agency, North West Frontier Province.
“Pakistan’s victory over poppy cultivation was a real success story,” said Mr. Costa. “But Afghan heroin continues to flood the country. Traffickers continue to attack the rule of law and challenge Pakistan’s hard-won security. And when they aren’t hiding out in caves on the northwest frontier, insurgents and other agents of violence huddle with these same traffickers, making sure their “take” of illegal drug revenues is enough to fund future operations,” he added.
During his three-day visit to Pakistan, Mr. Costa met President Pervez Musharraf, Minister for Interior Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, and Minister for Narcotics Control Ghous Bux Khan Maher, to discuss the threats posed to Pakistan by insurgency, terrorism, drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime. Although Pakistan eliminated poppy cultivation within its borders in 2000, there has been a resurgence in cultivation. The people of Pakistan are also exposed to heroin trafficked from Afghanistan to European markets, and which is marketed to local populations along trafficking routes. The number of addicts who inject heroin is increasing, and as a result of needle sharing, the risk of an HIV/AIDS epidemic is growing.
According to Mr. Costa, “Pakistan has strong support from UNODC. The United States and Europe support its counter-narcotics efforts – law enforcement, drug abuse prevention and treatment, and provision of alternative livelihoods for opium poppy growers. We need to support Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen its enforcement strategies to meet emerging threats. Change is coming, and I think the criminals who continue to pollute this country with drugs and dirty money are in for a big surprise.”
Last year, Afghanistan produced roughly 4,200 tons of opiates. UNODC is proposing assistance to help Pakistan stem the flow of drugs from Afghanistan, eliminate domestic drug production, prevent and treat drug abuse, build capacity to counter organized crime and foster regional cooperation on these issues.
For more information, contact:
Yusaf Mahmood, Programme Officer, UNODC
++ 92 51 2800050
++ 92 303 7758874 (cell)