Country Profile

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is the thirty third largest country in terms of area and fifth-most populous with a population exceeding 212,742,631 people. Sixty four percent of the country's population is under the age of 29, with 30 percent between the ages of 15 and 29. The gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to increase by 5.6 per cent in 2018 and 5.1 per cent in 2019 [1]. In addition to Karachi, major trade hubs and routes will include Gwadar port and potentially the Karakoram Highway into China under the envisioned China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the near future. There is also the medium-term prospect of stronger connections to Central Asia through Afghanistan. Promising economic indicators and a sizable population allow Pakistan to legitimately aspire to the play an important role in the region.

In its efforts to crack down on organized crime, the Government of Pakistan has entered into a number of international commitments including international treaties relating to narcotics, rule of law and anti-corruption. [2] . In many cases, these obligations have been incorporated into domestic law, but in others a gap still exists between the international commitments and national implementation.

Government of Pakistan has been an active member of Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND), and has contributed to the global debate of World Drug issues. At 61st session of the CND, Pakistan proposed a resolution for special steps to eradicate narcotics in educational institutions which was unanimously approved by all member states. Pakistan become the first country in the region to develop an implementation roadmap of UNGASS in close collaboration with UNODC.

UNODC has been working in Pakistan for over four decades in close collaboration with the Government of Pakistan and civil society, with the purpose of addressing development challenges related to drugs and crime. In December 2016 UNODC's Country Programme (2016-19) was signed with Government of Pakistan with a focus to assist in the areas of illicit trafficking & border management; the criminal justice system & legal reforms; and drug demand reduction, prevention, & treatment.

Drugs and precursors trafficking

Pakistan is geographically vulnerable to drug trafficking due to its borders with Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of illicit opium. In recent years, Afghanistan has accounted for around 90 percent of the world's opium production. In 2017, the total area under poppy cultivation increased by 63 per cent from its 2016 level. [3] Despite the challenges faced by the increased opium production, Pakistan has significant achievements to its credit in countering this cross-border challenge.

In 2016-17, Pakistan seized a total of 2860 metric [4] tons of different types of narcotic drugs, this highlights Pakistan's unrelenting commitment to and actual implementation in combating drug trafficking, with cooperation from international partners. However, with the upsurge in poppy cultivation and opium production, there is an urgent need to address drug problems in the region.

Human trafficking and migrant smuggling

Human trafficking and migrant smuggling reflect negative trends in human development in the region. These criminal activities often result in forced labour [5] and servitude, leading to serious human rights violations.

Pakistan has taken important steps in combating these crimes, including the promulgation of "The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018" and "The Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Acts, 2018". These laws safeguard the rights of victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants and empower the law enforcement agencies of Pakistan to effectively prosecute the organized gangs perpetuating and benefitting from these crimes.

Criminal Justice System and Anti-Corruption

Pakistan faces a multitude of criminal activities internally in addition to the challenges posed by transnational organized crime. Current policing approaches to crime in Pakistan are reactive in nature, and effective crime prevention measures are scarce or non-existent. In addition, there is a lack of rigor around evidence collection, management and investigation, which negatively affects the criminal justice processes. Different chains of command and the complex flow of information have led to weakening coordination between the law enforcement agencies . [6]Criminal procedures tend to be tedious and time consuming, and there is a sizeable backlog of court cases in the country.

Pakistan is a state party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which is the only legally binding international instrument against corruption. While corruption remains a problem in Pakistan as elsewhere, its courts and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which specifically targets corruption, have demonstrated that no public official including the highest is above and beyond the reach of the law.

Drug use prevention and treatment

According to the 2013 national survey on "Drug Use in Pakistan", 4.25 million people are considered dependent on substances and require structured treatment for their drug use disorder [7] .

Survey findings show that cannabis is the most commonly used drug, with around 4 million users nationwide. Around 860,000 people used heroin regularly, approximately 19,000 people reported they had used methamphetamine and nearly 1.6 million people reported misuse of prescription opioids (painkillers) for non-medical use.

The majority of opiate users (76 per cent) wanted to get help treating their drug dependence, but lack of financial resources to pay for their treatment was the major hindrance. Nearly all regular opiate users in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan reported that they had no access to low-threshold services in their area and the situation was only slightly better in other areas . [8]  

[1] Asian Development Bank (2018),


[3] UNODC, Afghanistan Opium Survey 2017. Cultivation and production.

[4] Anti-Narcotics Force

[5] Trafficking in Person Report

[6] Policing Urban Violence in Pakistan, International Crisis Group 2014.

[7] Drug Use in Pakistan Survey Report

[8] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, UN Doc. A/HRC/4/28/Add.2 ,