Drug trafficking continues to plague Pakistan
Saturday, 27 Jun, 2009 | 01:34 AM PST |
Security officials stands alert in front of a big cache of narcotics that set on fire at Khyber agency to mark the international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.—AFP photo.
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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan remains among the countries most affected by drug trafficking and has been ranked second in terms of heroin and morphine seizures in 2008.
These sorry facts came as the World Drug Day was observed on Friday to raise awareness about the major challenges which illicit drugs represent to society as a whole and especially to the young.
The world’s morphine seizures continued to be reported by Pakistan with 11 metric tons or 40 per cent of the total seizure globally, according to the World Drug Report 2009, launched in Islamabad on Thursday.
In terms of opium seizure, Pakistan was ranked second with 71 per cent of the total seizures.
In Pakistan, opium poppy continued to be cultivated in the area along the Afghan border at about the same relatively low level of about 2,000 hectares reported over the past five years. Pakistan saw the most opium poppy eradication in 2004 when 5,200 hectares of land was cleared.
In 2007, poppy crop on 614 hectares was eradicated. The new drug report carry no figure for the year 2008, mainly due to the ongoing war against Taliban militants and anti-state elements in parts of NWFP, the main poppy cultivating areas.
The United Nations Office of Drug and Crime, which released its annual World Drug Report, suggests in its estimates for 2008 that most of the opium exports from Afghanistan cross the border in Iran while nearly 40 per cent exports of morphine and heroin exports go to Pakistan.
Pakistan has reported an additional new route to Malaysia, both direct and via Dubai. Until recently, heroin in Malaysia originated exclusively from Myanmar. This new route shows that Afghan opiates may now reach other destinations since Malaysia has been mentioned among the key embarkation points for heroin shipments into Australia.
The report says the bulk of all opiates produced in Afghanistan are destined for consumption in the neighbouring Iran, Pakistan, Central Asian countries and, to a lesser extent, India. These markets – about five million users – are, in fact, larger than the opiate market in western and central Europe – about 1.4 million.
The opiate markets in Western Europe are, however, financially more lucrative. Therefore, opiates also leave Afghanistan via Iran and Pakistan along the Balkan route towards Western Europe.
Opiate use remains the most prominent illicit drug problem in this region. Population surveys suggested that 1.4 per cent used opiates in the past year in Afghanistan, and 2.8 per cent in Iran which has an estimated 0.7 to 1.6 million so-called ‘drug addicts’.
Injecting drug use in Pakistan is reportedly increasing, with one study estimating 630,000 opiate users in Pakistan, equivalent to 0.7 per cent of those aged 15 to 64, around 77 per cent of whom were heroin users. At least half of the world’s amphetamines-group users – between 5.8-37.0 million – live in Asia.
Most of these are methamphetamine users in East and South-East Asia, which account for between 52 and 79 per cent of estimated users in the region.