UNODC and Pakistan step up cooperation to confront grave challenges

Pak CP23 March 2011 - UNODC and the Government of Pakistan have presented the key milestones achieved since the UNODC Country Programme for Pakistan was adopted in July 2010, while at the same time highlighting the continuing challenges posed by illicit drugs and related crime in that country and key policy frameworks developed in response.

Speaking at the presentation event, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said: "Pakistan is at the forefront of international drug control, with its law enforcement authorities being one of the first responders to drug trafficking originating in Afghanistan. We welcome our increased cooperation with the Government of Pakistan to fight illicit drug trafficking and organized crime in the country and in the region. To our donors, I would like to emphasize that the programme still requires more funding and that full funding in the early stages will contribute to enhancing the overall impact of our technical assistance by 2014."

Mr. Fedotov lauded the UNODC-facilitated Triangular Initiative, which has helped to forge an unprecedented level of cooperation between Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan on vital issues such as border security and regional cooperation in countering drug trafficking. Under the initiative, multiple operations have been carried out, leading to significant drug seizures - more than 2,500 kilograms of opium, heroin and hashish - and the arrest of drug traffickers.

Mr. Fedotov added that UNODC was devising a regional programme to help to promote shared responsibility between Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and the international community and to assist in further increasing the capacity of those countries to fight drug trafficking and related threats, thus improving stability, security and the rule of law.

Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Representative in Pakistan, stressed that the challenges should not be underestimated: "The drug and crime situation has had a broader impact on Pakistan than many acknowledge, and development partners are starting to realize this fact."

UNODC and the Government of Pakistan are working closely to implement a landmark country programme, offering comprehensive development assistance in order to target drug and crime issues in Pakistan. The country programme is focused on three interdependent areas of assistance: illicit trafficking and border management, criminal justice and drug demand reduction and HIV/AIDS.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Narcotics Control of Pakistan, Mr. Iftikhar Ahmed, said: "We are very glad of our ongoing and increasing cooperation with UNODC. To address the flow of illicit drugs from Afghanistan, we require combined efforts and are thankful for the technical expertise and financial assistance that UNODC is providing."

One of the key recent achievements under the country programme is the establishment of the first border liaison office at Torkham, on the border with Afghanistan. The liaison office, a concept developed by UNODC, brings together law enforcement agencies to increase coordination and improve border management.

"As the destination and transit country for over 40 per cent of the opiates produced in Afghanistan, as well as a key transit country for precursors, Pakistan's borders are particularly vulnerable, and we hope that the border liaison office at Torkham will make a contribution to countering some of the trafficking and linked transnational organized crime", said Mr. Douglas.

UNODC is also providing a range of drug-testing and detection equipment to Pakistani authorities, setting up training facilities, improving drug data collection capacity and assisting the Government in enhancing the operation of the criminal justice system.

Responding to requests for law enforcement training, UNODC and the Government of Pakistan have set-up a series of computer-based training centres which offer some 70 training modules developed by international experts and UNODC. In order to ensure local ownership and understanding, these modules are offered in Urdu and versions in Pashtu are being developed.

In response to a request by the Government of Pakistan, UNODC supported law enforcement agencies in their recovery efforts in the wake of the devastating floods of 2010. Last week, UNODC handed over replacement vehicles and motorcycles to police authorities to enable them to reach remote communities and help to restore law and order in a challenging environment.

UNODC and the Government of Pakistan are also continuing to work together to improve drug treatment services through training and capacity-building for Government agencies and NGO service providers and the development of treatment guidelines. In addition, a survey on drug use in Pakistan will be conducted this year, preparing the ground for further assistance in preventing and treating drug abuse.