Pak-Iran cooperation on drug trafficking

Yesterday, Pakistan and Iran Concluded an agreement to extend cooperation with each other to eradicate the menace of drugs from both the countries. The agreement was finalized during a meeting between Minister for Narcotics Control Brig (R) Ijaz Ahmad and Iranian delegation headed by Brigadier-General Majid Karimi, Chief of Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Police. At the occasion, the leadership of both countries emphasized the need to strengthen Pak-Iran border cooperation to effectively combat drug trafficking. Both countries noted that today main problem is the increase in poppy production in the region.

The Chief of Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Police said that both Pakistan and Iran have the capacity to face this challenge, but it is necessary to further strengthen relations and bilateral cooperation between the anti-narcotics forces of Iran and Pakistan. Pakistan is planning to fence its common border with Iran and considered it effective in the fight against drug trafficking, smuggling, border crossings by miscreants and terrorists. Iran also desired to enhance the border security through collective efforts.

Pakistan and Iran are two brother Muslim Countries having over 900 Km common International border. Both Countries have many things in common such as religion and culture but unfortunately, both countries always stood on opposite side of the table in political domain. Iran has close relations with India, Russia and Armenia, whereas Pakistan has brotherly relations with Turkey, Azerbaijan and remained a close ally of USA. Usually Pak-Iran border remained a bone of contention between both nations due to illegal activities by the non-state actors including drug traffickers, smugglers, separatist elements of both countries.

Iran is facing a serious problem of drug addiction in its society. According to a survey about 2.5 million people are drug addicts and these numbers are increasing every day. Afghanistan is the cultivation and production hub of opium and heroin. Then this drug flows to Central Asia, Iran and Pakistan for onward distribution to rest of the World. As per available statistics 3000 Iranian soldiers had been killed in fight against drug smugglers on Iran’s Eastern borders including joint Iranian border with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On Pakistan side, Balochistan is a hub of drug smugglers and mafias in Pakistan. More than 10 officers of Anti-Narcotics Force, Customs and FBR have been killed in Balochistan who dared to Challenge the drug mafias and worked to eliminate the activities of Drug Traffickers and smuggler in the province. Research revealed that about 80 % of the Afghan Opium Trade flows to rest of the World through Balochistan. It also explains that the total of nine drug trafficking routes enters from Afghanistan into Pakistan, six out of nine routes pass through Balochistan. The United Nations World Drug Report 2012 revealed that Pakistan provides a vital transit route for smuggling of drugs worth US $30 billion from the neighboring Afghanistan. This report further said that on Pakistan-Afghanistan border, there are numerous caravan routes being used by drug smugglers. Smuggling affects domestic industries, eroding revenue, nourishing an undocumented economy and paving the way for money laundering and corruption in the society.

No provincial and federal government took this issue seriously and never implemented concrete steps to halt drug smuggling across the border. The criminals and separatists’ elements of two countries usually operate on both side of border due to non-existence of any physical barrier on the border. The movements of these terrorist elements, smugglers and drug traffickers creates distrust and problem for both Countries. Iran and Pakistan both are victims of the drug problem and at the same time had an active role in the fight against the menace, so there is a need for more coordinated efforts on the common International border to deal effectively with drug traffickers.  Both Countries should work together to frame a joint mechanism to counter all these mutual threats faced by them including Drug trafficking, Smuggling, Terrorists infiltration. Both Pakistan and Iran must create bonds of trust, confidence and mutual respect to overcome these challenges.