Enhancing Pakistan's counter-narcotics capacity through provision of specialized equipment under funding by the Government of Japan 

26 August 2020, Rawalpindi: In a high-level ceremony organized at the Headquarters Anti Narcotics Force (ANF), UNODC Country Office Pakistan, in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan, handed over specialized equipment to the ANF, Pakistan’s premier counter-narcotics law enforcement agency. H.E. Mr. Azam Khan Swati, Federal Minister of Narcotics-Control and H.E. Mr. Kuninori Matsuda, the Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan were also present at the occasion.    

The equipment has been provided under a Japan-funded project being implemented by UNODC Country Office Pakistan (COPAK) entitled ‘Strengthening border security against illicit drug trafficking and related transnational organized crime (2016-2020). It comprised IT equipment for automating Pakistan’s National Precursors Management System (NPMS), and for consolidating interagency networking under the framework of national Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) on Counter-Narcotics, formulated by the Government of Pakistan in February 2010. Twenty Narcotics-Sniffer Dogs and forty Bullet Proof Vests and Helmets were also handed over, to strengthen ANF’s drug interdiction capacity in border areas, dry ports, airports and seaports. 

While welcoming the delegates, Mr. Ali Zulnoorain Sheikh, PSP, Deputy Director General ANF thanked the Federal Minister of Narcotics Control and the Ambassador of Japan for gracing the auspicious occasion. He offered gratitude to Mr. Jeremy Milsom, Representative and other senior officials from UNODC COPAK for providing regular technical support to the ANF and other members of Pakistan’s IATF on counter narcotics. He said, “The ANF highly appreciates continuing capacity-building measures by UNODC, our closest strategic partner in the UN family. The ANF continues to lead counter-narcotics efforts not only in Pakistan, but we have also contributed to several international interdiction operations, where various international partners have greatly benefitted from timely and accurate information provided by the ANF. We are making concerted efforts to nab drug traffickers, as they continue to exploit Pakistan’s geographical location next to Afghanistan and the shortest distance it provides to the international maritime routes”. 

In his remarks, Mr. Jeremy Milsom thanked the Federal Minister of Narcotics Control and the Ambassador of Japan for their presence at the gracious handover ceremony. He also offered gratitude to the Government of Japan for its great commitment to support the ANF and other law enforcement agencies in Pakistan and that Japan’s steady funding support to UNODC for capacity building of national counterparts has always been pre-eminent. “It is indeed a great feeling and privilege to support a highly professional and competent force like the ANF, in its continuing efforts to save the world from drug trafficking and drug abuse – the greatest challenges of our times. UNODC well-recognizes ANF’s whole-hearted counter-narcotics operations efforts, whereby the ANF personnel even laid down their precious lives while fighting drug traffickers in various parts of the country. We acknowledge ANF’s leading counter-narcotics role and it will always remain our main partner in Pakistan. We also believe that multi-dimensional roles and cross-cutting mandates of various national stakeholders can be used as a force-multiplier, to address risks and challenges of drug trafficking in Pakistan” said Mr. Milsom.

After his remarks, Mr. Saqib Khan – Programme Officer (Border Management) of UNODC COPAK highlighted the specificity, advantages and expected results associated with the equipment. 

In his statement, H.E. Mr. Kuninori Matsuda appreciated highly technical and sustainable capacity-building support by UNODC COPAK and also realized the need to continue its funding contributions, to rid Pakistan of the menace of drug trafficking and associated money laundering, that continue to threaten health, human security and socio-economic development in Pakistan. He assured that the Government of Japan continues to accord a high-priority to the peace-security-development nexus and therefore, will continue endeavors to build Pakistan’s counter-narcotics capacity. He also offered condolences on the recent sacrifices made by ANF personnel in the line of duty, whereby four ANF personnel were martyred during two major encounters with the drug trafficking networks in Balochistan and Rawalpindi. 

In his closing remarks, Mr. Azam Khan Swati, the Federal Minister of Narcotics-Control highlighted the emerging misuse of the internet for drug peddling and money-laundering, a predicate crime under the FATF, and a growing challenge for the rule of law and socio-economic development. He also highly appreciated regular and sustainable capacity-building support by the Government of Japan as Pakistan’s long-term strategic partner through UNODC. “The Government of Pakistan well-recognizes that controlling licit use of precursor chemicals is an important countermeasure to prevent drug production. The Precursor Management System being strengthened under this project is a cost-effective way to combat drug production and trafficking from Afghanistan” said Mr. Swati. He also highlighted the vision of Prime Minister Imran khan to address the growing challenge of narcotics trafficking, by adopting a collective, coherent and multilateral approach, He reiterated that Pakistan, as a law-abiding country is not going to tolerate the menace of drug trafficking and its negative consequences upon health and socio-economic development in Pakistan. He also drew attention to Government of Pakistan’s recent counter-narcotics drive, as well as measures for strengthening the national legislation and interagency partnerships, as per special directive of Prime Minister Imran Khan.