Illegal Narcotics have emerged as the bane of societies around the world. Often manufactured and trafficked by massive criminal networks, narcotics have infiltrated nearly every corner of the globe. This drug trade has undermined political and economic stability, ruining the lives of individuals and damaging communities. Drug addiction causes 685 deaths daily worldwide compared to 49 deaths per day due to terrorism. More recently, drug trafficking has emerged as a major source of financing for terrorist groups bringing disturbing rise in narco-trafficker and terrorist nexus.
According to a report in the Daily Times, Pakistan Navy in coordination with Anti-Narcotics Force, seized approximately 1200 Kg of Hashish planned for transportation to foreign destination through sea. Pakistan is though generally recognized as Poppy Free State (less than 1000 hectares), it is bordered with Afghanistan; the biggest cultivator of Poppy Opium with a cultivation area of around 183,000 Hectare and other South-West Asia and South-East Asia region. Afghanistan being landlocked, geographical location brings Pakistan in route to Opiate trafficking of around 40% Afghan production for onward transferal through Pakistani coastal areas to China, South East Asia, Africa and Europe. A significant amount of trafficking takes place through small towns on the Makran coast, where small boats evade Coast Guards to carry consignments into the high seas, for shifting onto larger vessels.
Going through the recent past, Pakistan’s maritime security arm has been quite instrumental in curbing illegal narcotics trade through coastal belt of the country. Reports indicate that since April 2019, Pakistan Navy has seized over 18455 kilograms of Hashish, 360 kg of Heroin and 344 kg of Crystal.
Pakistan’s resolve to disrupt the global narcotics trade by disrupting the flow of illegal drugs both on land and sea is being manifested through operations at sea as well as land. Smugglers using technique of loading drugs on small to medium sized boats and making their way to the high seas for transferring the narco-cargo to waiting freighters which then take the cargo to their destinations in the region and beyond. Recent recoveries at sea include major drug busts in recent years where the seizure of 5000 Kg of Hashish through PNS ASLAT and 2280 kg of Hashish from a boat named Al Adnan near Pasni during September last year by Maritime forces.
Similarly, anti-drug operations by Pakistan Navy on land along the coast line also remained successful in seizing massive amounts of narcotics. These raids often in cooperation among different Law Enforcement Agencies target storage and transit facilities used by smuggling networks, planned to be shipped out using the open seas. Data of some notable raids available indicates seizure of approximately 2000 kilograms of hashish valuing $30 million in an offshore operation near Pasni town in Baluchistan in January 2019, seizing of 1600kg of Hashish worth approx. 32 million dollars near Makran Coast in July as well as the capture of 164 kg of Crystal meth & 329 kg Heroine near Pishukan this October.
While primarily targeting major narcotics i.e Hashish, Heroin and Crystal Meth, other banned health damaging commodities like Gutka and its components like Betel Nut are also seized. Gutka or gu?kha is a chewing tobacco made of crushed areca nut, tobacco, catechu, paraffin wax, slaked lime and sweet or savory flavorings. It contains carcinogens, responsible for oral cancer and other severe negative health effects.
Maritime security instruments including Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency have played vital role in protection of the Pakistan’s maritime interests and enforcement of maritime law with in territorial and international waters, particularly the exclusive economic zone. Focused maritime operations which dented the narco-trafficking endeavors through national maritime boundaries without extra bosting dictate the professional acumen as well as owning of the responsibility by national maritime defenders.
In a nutshell, it’s encouraging to witness that Pakistan government through the Pakistan Navy is taking bold action against the illegal drugs trafficking via coastline and at open seas. The Pakistan Navy has emerged as an important tool in Pakistan’s fulfillment of moral and legal obligation to protect global society from the bane of narcotics and illegal drugs and highlights Pakistan’s national resolve to not allow its land be used as a passage for illegal narcotics that kill far more people worldwide than terrorism.