Pakistan ready to curb illicit drug trafficking in cooperation with SCO, UN

F.P. Report

VIENNA: Minister for Narcotics Control Shehryar Khan Afridi has said that Pakistan is ready to work with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) to curb the illicit drug trafficking through Dark Net.

Addressing the audiences at the joint event of United Nations and SCO in the fight against illicit drug traffic titled, “Countering Drug Trafficking via Darknet” at Vienna, Austria on Monday, Afridi said that Pakistan sincerely appreciates and acknowledges the effective role of SCO for promoting peace, stability and economic uplift in our region.

“Especially, in the wake of increasing challenges and threats posed by illicit drugs, SCO has taken concrete measures to strengthen regional cooperation to counter this menace. Pakistan is effectively contributing in all counter narcotics endeavors of SCO since becoming full member in 2017,” the minister said.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment and support to “Anti-Drug Strategy of the SCO Member States 2018-2023”, Afridi the SCO forum that Pakistan’s Action Plan is robustly being implemented as a national priority.

“The concepts of establishment of SCO Universal Center and SCO Anti-Drug Center are also significant initiatives and would facilitate in strengthening regional cooperation. Additionally, phase one of the anti-drug operation “Spider-Web” was successfully conducted in July 2019 and its second phase is scheduled in the end of this month.

I am hopeful that this second phase of the operation would also achieve its optimum,” he added.

Afridi said that today Pakistan is ranked amongst countries which are making effective contributions in the global fight against illicit drugs.

“Pakistan’s counter narcotics initiatives are not only yielding desired results at the domestic front but are also duly acknowledged and appreciated by all relevant international organizations and partner countries.

Hands in hands with our regional international partners, Pakistan is determined to continue these endeavours with the same resilience to protect our own society as well as shield the international community from the devastating effects of illicit drugs”.

Taking stock of the threats posed by drug trafficking through Dark Net, Afridi said with consistent advancement in technology, use of DarkNet for trafficking in illicit drugs has emerged as one of the most persistent and complex challenges due to the relative anonymity it offers to the criminals.

“The challenge is even more cumbersome for the law enforcement agencies and financial intelligence units of the developing and under-developed countries who lack requisite expertise, technical capacity and related infrastructure to effectively address this dimension of illicit drug trafficking. The situation is further compounded due to the involvement of various foreign jurisdiction and use of crypto currency”.

Reflecting upon this specific challenge to Pakistan, Afridi said that DarkNet was found to be used in Pakistan for illicit import/export of drugs especially of ATS and Ecstasy tablets.

“Currently, the drug law enforcers of Pakistan have insufficient capacity to handle digital evidence, forensics and cryptocurrency. Nevertheless, Pakistan is working hard to counter this threat through optimum utilization of intelligence networks,” he added.

In last two years, the minister said Pakistan made eleven seizures of total 3,300 Ecstasy Tables, 92 Grams MDMA, five Grams Cocaine and 36 Grams Weeds coming from Netherlands to Rawalpindi, Karachi and Sialkot booked through DarkNet employing Bitcoin.

Afridi urged the world to take joint measures to counter and address the emerging threat of DarkNet by developing and strengthening the capacities of its member States to trace cryptocurrency transactions to the owner and to conduct undercover operations on the DarkNet by using relevant technical equipment, enhanced technical skill sets and exchange of experiences and best practices.