A small investment to Pakistan will greatly contribute to preventing drugs to reach destinations worldwide 

15 March 2023, Vienna - Around this powerful message, the Government of Pakistan, in cooperation with UNODC Country Office Pakistan (COPAK) organised a "Roundtable with Partners" in the margins of the 66th Session of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs held in Vienna, Austria, on 13 March 2023. The roundtable was hosted by H.E. Mr. Aftab Ahmed Khokhar – Pakistan’s Permanent Representative at the UN Vienna/Ambassador. The Pakistan delegation comprised H.E. Shazain Bugti, Honorable Federal Minister for Narcotics Control, Ms. Humaira Ahmed, Federal Secretary for Narcotics Control, and Major General Aneeq Malik, HI (M) Director General Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) of Pakistan. The side event aimed to highlight the emerging and existing challenges being faced by Pakistan, and our shared aspirations to address them collectively.  

Several participants representing 8 Member States, including the Ambassadors of the Kingdom of Norway and Spain, as well as representatives from Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Türkiye, and the United Kingdom attended the roundtable.

Inaugurating the event, Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director Policy Analysis and Public Affairs of UNODC, highlighted that the crisis in Afghanistan continues to exacerbate the influx of drugs, especially opiates and methamphetamine, into Pakistan and various other regional countries. He also stressed the importance of addressing illicit drugs and related organized crime through close cooperation and coordination among member states of the Indian Ocean region.

Dr. Jeremy Milsom – Representative of UNODC COPAK – presented the structure of the Pakistan Country Programme III (2022-2025) and how it localises UNODC’s Strategy 2021-2025 to the needs and priorities of the Government of Pakistan and its international partners. In addition, he underscored that in 2022, opiates seizures decreased in Pakistan by 44.7%, while methamphetamine seizures increased by 70%. These changes in the ecosystem of drug trafficking in Pakistan and the region stress the importance of tackling the interlinked challenges of drug addiction, drugs trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime including terrorism, and the associated illicit financial flows.

In her keynote address, Ms. Humaira Ahmed called for a need to focus on the demand reduction of drugs worldwide, a long-term measure that could potentially diminish the amount of drug supply emanating from Afghanistan and transiting through Pakistan to the rest of the world. Ms. Ahmed stressed the importance of proactive detection, interdiction, and investigation activities, and strengthening of drug demand reduction and treatment activities to accomplish this objective.

All participants provided positive feedback to the roundtable, acknowledging how their respective governments do prioritise the world drug problem and identify Pakistan as a strategic partner for countering the influx of drugs to other countries in the region and beyond. They also underscored the importance of embedding the gender aspects into programme operations and initiatives, and echoed the Federal Secretary’s call to reduce drug demand in respective destination countries and consequently reduce supplies - under the principles of common and shared responsibility.