UNODC facilitates Pakistan’s participation in multinational Mozambique Channel Security Talks and Maritime Training Courses in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town (South Africa), 22 October 2022 – UNODC Country Office Pakistan (COPAK), in close collaboration with UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) and Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSAF), facilitated Pakistan’s participation in Mozambique Channel Security Talks held at Cape Town, South Africa from 19-20 October 2022. Drafted with financial support from Japan, Norway, and Portugal, this high-level interaction aimed at promoting a shared vision and strengthening of cooperation between Government of Pakistan (GoP) and littoral states of southern transit zone of the Indian Ocean, such as South Africa, Mozambique, and Tanzania, against maritime drug trafficking.

The meeting was attended by international observers including officials from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Department of Homeland Security of United States of America (USA), and National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom (UK).

Led by Ms Humaira Ahmed, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Narcotics Control (MNC), the high-profile Pakistani delegation comprised of Mr Mukarram Jah Ansari, Member (Customs), Federal Board of Revenue; Mr Muhammad Amir Thahim, Customs Collector (Appraisement), Karachi; Brigadier Ghulam Abbas, Director General, Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG); Brigadier Syed Vaqar Haider Rizvi, Force Commander, Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Karachi; Syed Zargham Raza Kazmi, Counsellor, Pakistan High Commission, Pretoria (South Africa); and Ms Anum Gulraze, Section Officer, MNC. Heads of other participating delegations included Lieutenant General Lebeya, Head of the South African Police; Mr Gerald Kusaya, Director General, Tanzanian Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA); Ms Filomena Chitsonzo, Director General, Mozambique Central Office for Drug Prevention and Combat (GCPCD); and Dr Jeremy Milsom – Representative, UNODC COPAK.

While addressing the multinational gathering, Ms Humaira Ahmed emphasized the need for reducing international drug demand to curtail the supply of drugs with Afghan origin. It must be realized that the Afghan opiates and synthetic drugs being trafficked through Indian Ocean were not only being smuggled via Pakistani coastline but the coastal areas of other South Asian and South-West Asian countries bordering the Indian Ocean were also being used for the purpose, she added.

Besides establishing a policy-level contact with national authorities of South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique, the Pakistani delegation also discussed potential areas of cooperation for strengthened collective response in collaboration with these partner countries against illicit drug trafficking and smuggling of other contraband items - through close collaboration, information-exchange, coordination of International Controlled Delivery (ICD) Operations and backtracking investigations among others. The Pakistani delegation also stressed the need for providing ‘consular access’ to any Pakistanis apprehended in cases related with drug trafficking and/or contraband trafficking in South Africa, Mozambique, or Tanzania. Towards the end, a Joint Statement was agreed upon by the participating countries.

The high-level dialogue also laid grounds for further deliberations, such as development of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and other cooperation mechanisms between Pakistan and the participating countries. Delegates from South Africa and other countries highly appreciated the presence of the Government of Pakistan at such important meetings facilitated by UNODC.

On 20 October 2022, the Pakistani delegation witnessed the final boarding exercise of ‘Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBBS) Training Course’, organized by UNODC’s GMCP in Cape Town from 10-21 October 2022. The course was implemented by UNODC’s GMCP and COPAK under a maritime security project funded by the INL, and attended by 4 trainees each from PCG, Model Customs Collectorate (Preventive) Karachi and ANF’s Regional Directorate in Karachi.

It was last of a series of VBSS Training Courses and Bulk Carrier Search Courses organized by both UNODC offices in Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and South Africa, where 84 Pakistani trainees (including 12 Master Trainers) have been trained through the funding support from INL and the Government of Australia. The master trainers graduating from these courses will subsequently train fresh in-take of the ANF, PCG and Pakistan Customs under UNODC’s International Mentorship in Karachi during early 2023. Pakistani delegates also attended the closing ceremony of the last VBSS Training Course on 21 October 2022. Government of Pakistan’s representation at both events highlighted its keen interest for enhancing national capacity to address illicit drug trafficking and contraband smuggling through Pakistan’s coastal areas and maritime domain more effectively.