UNODC Country Office Pakistan Conducts Preliminary Needs Assessment of Pakistan Law Enforcement Agencies Operating in the Maritime Domain

KARACHI, 9 January 2020. UNODC Country Office Pakistan (COPAK) concluded a 2-day needs assessment mission in Karachi, aimed at identifying the key maritime challenges faced by the Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG), Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), and Pakistan Customs.

On Day 1, the UNODC COPAK team was received by Brigadier Saqib Qamar, Director General PCG. He thanked UNODC COPAK for its capacity-building interventions over the years, which had strengthened PCG's response against illicit trafficking and transnational organized crime. 'Afghan opiates pose a grave challenge to Pakistan, both as a transit and destination country. PCG has the unique role of conducting anti-smuggling operations on both land and sea. Over the last five years we have seized 52,000 kgs of hashish, 100 kgs heroin, 500 kgs crystal, and 640 kgs opium. Enhancement of PCG's operational capacity will help in attaining our common objectives', he stated.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Jeremy Milsom, Country Representative, highlighted that UNODC COPAK Pakistan Country Programme II (2016-2020) was building capacities of Pakistan's frontline law enforcement agencies against illicit trafficking of various kinds and scales. 'We realize that the nexus between various transnational criminal networks generates illegal economy, which can create instability and terrorism. UNODC's Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) based in Sri Lanka is enhancing the capacity of coastal states in the region against maritime crime affecting their waters. Given the enormity of the challenges at hand, both UNODC offices are making efforts to develop a capacity-building project, comprising interagency specialist trainings, regional meetings, roundtable conferences, seminars, and table-top exercises; as well as provision of operational equipment', he stated.

Towards the end of the day, Mr Milsom formally handed over 6 Narcotics-Sniffer Dogs to PCG Headquarters, as part of an ongoing Japan-funded project entitled ' Strengthening Border Security Against Illicit Drug Trafficking and Related Transnational Organized Crime (2016-2020)'.

On Day 2, the UNODC COPAK mission attended a comprehensive meeting at the Headquarters of PMSA Karachi. While welcoming the mission Rear Admiral Zaka ur Rehman, Director General, apprised them of the role, responsibilities, and achievements of PMSA. 'We are the only law enforcement agency operating in the deep sea, with an area of responsibility stretching over 2,000 square kms. We are seizing drugs; countering human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and poaching; as well as controlling marine pollution', he said. He requested UNODC to facilitate PMSA's inclusion in regional maritime forums, provide specialized training and drug detection equipment, and support expansion of its eLearning Centre.

Mr Jeremy Milsom thanked PMSA for resuming this   strategic partnership, as it was critically required vis-à-vis the growing challenges of illicit trafficking and smuggling in the region. 'GMCP's Indian Ocean (IO) team conducts regional workshops and training sessions on Vessel Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS); Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA); and criminal investigation skills. We therefore intend developing a comprehensive capacity-building project to address the priority needs of all law enforcement agencies functioning in the maritime domain', he said.

Later, UNODC COPAK attended a briefing session hosted by the Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) - Preventive, Karachi. While warmly welcoming the UNODC delegation Mr Saqif Saeed, Collector Customs (Preventive), focussed on Pakistan Customs' wider mandate, particularly its lead on anti-smuggling efforts in the country, as recently delegated by Prime Minister Imran Khan. 'Pakistan Customs also has jurisdiction at sea, and operates across 200 nautical miles. It prevents smuggling activities independently, as well as in collaboration with PÇG and PMSA. Aside from maintaining Port Control Units at the major seaports, MCC Preventive also has land-check posts along the three main highways originating from Karachi. We need extensive training of the young customs cadre and re-operationalization of our marine assets', he noted.

Mr Jeremy Milsom apprised the gathering of GMCP's provision of theoretical and practical support for the entire criminal justice chain, from maritime law enforcement to judiciaries, and through to prisons. 'Mr Alan Cole, Head of GMCP, is scheduled to visit Pakistan at the beginning of February 2020, and we intend developing a comprehensive capacity-building project for Pakistan Customs and other law enforcement agencies operating in the maritime domain', he stated.

UNODC COPAK envisions expanding its technical support to the Government of Pakistan, in addressing its priority needs and vision to attain Sustainable Development Goal 16: 'Promoting Peace, Justice, and Institutional Development'.