Pakistanis consume $1.2 billion worth of heroin every year, 1.8% of a global market of over $65 billion, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Data on Pakistani drug consumption was released as part of the 2011 World Drug Report, the UNODP’s flagship publication which compares global production, consumption, trafficking and prices of several different types of drugs, including opium/heroin, coca/cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants and cannabis.
The report states that Pakistan’s geographic location makes it vulnerable to the threat of drug usage and trafficking since Afghanistan produces almost 90% of the world’s opium and heroin, of which almost 40% is trafficked through Pakistan, or over 35% of the global total.
According to a statement by the UNODC, the fact that poppy growing Afghan provinces – Helmand, Kandahar and Nimroz – neighbour Pakistan, it makes the country a lucrative trafficking route for Afghan opiates.
“Pakistan is particularly vulnerable to the trafficking of Afghan opiates and this poses a burden on public health, criminal justice and security systems,” said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Representative in Pakistan.
Douglas’ thoughts were echoed by Pakistani government officials. “During transition of drugs from Afghanistan to Pakistan they are also consumed in the local market and, therefore, are a source of increasing addiction in our country,” said Narcotics Control Secretary Iftikhar Ahmed.
“These drugs also benefit criminal groups along drug trafficking routes. Afghan opium production has resulted in negative social, health and economic consequences for Pakistan – we are a victim country,” Ahmed added.
Officials in the UN told The Express Tribune that the lack of border management also adds to the challenges of controlling the menace of drug trafficking in the country.
However, Major General Syed Shakeel Hussain, the director general of the Anti Narcotics Force, the agency that is tasked with coordinating anti-drug initiatives, claimed that the ANF has had significant successes, including some of the largest seizures of narcotics and precursor chemicals in the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2011.