Interior Minister Rehman Malik delivers his key note address at the Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter Terrorism at a local hotel in Islamabad on Tuesday. – Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday said that around 70 per cent of Taliban's income comes from managing and taxing the illicit drug business.

He said that the cooperation among opium producers, mafia and Taliban had detrimental impact on the security of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Chairing the concluding session of a two-day Regional Ministerial Conference entitled “Counter narcotics, enhancing cooperation for effective coordinated and sustainable narcotics control,” Malik said that US $ 58 billion narcotics trade was going on in the world.

He said that there was a need to have a long term collaborative strategy rather than sporadic destruction of poppy fields.

He said that Pakistan was fighting against the narco-terrorism with its meager resources. “Our nation has suffered losses both in term of human lives and material - 80 billion dollars loss in economy and over 45,000 people have been killed in terrorist activities,” he added.

The interior minister said that Pakistan had launched concerted efforts against both the evils (drugs and terrorism) simultaneously. “The drug menace being faced by us today requires a concerted action based on principle of common and shared responsibility,” he added.

He said that Pakistan was a major transit route for Afghan opiate as nearly 160 metric ton heroin, which makes up 44 per cent of the total Afghan heroin, was transited through its territorial jurisdictions.

“It is estimated that in 2010, total drug users in Pakistan reached about 8.1 million using opium, heroin, including injecting users and hashish etc,” he said.

The minister said that in order to address the drug problem effectively, the government had adopted a comprehensive strategy, including the drug abuse prevention and drug abuse treatment & rehabilitation.

The minister also said that Pakistan's Drug Abuse Control Master Plan for five years (2010-2014) was prepared to reduce the health, social and economic costs associated with the drug problem.

It envisages expenditure of US $ 125 million, including substantial allocation for drug demand reduction activities, he added.

Highlighting the efforts of Pakistan's drug law enforcement agencies in curbing the menace of drugs, he said, “In 2010 we contributed 10 per cent to global heroin/morphine seizure, 4 per cent to global opium seizure and 19 per cent to global cannabis seizure.”

Similarly, Malik said, Pakistan had been a major contributor to the Acetic Anhydride (AA) seizures under UNODC operation and made two world's largest seizure of Acetic Anhydride.

He said that as regards to poppy cultivation after 2001, Pakistan had once again achieved the status of poppy free country for the year 2011 owing to untiring efforts of its government.

He said that according to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated potential opium production increased from 4,700 tons in 2010 to 7,000 tons in 2011, reaching levels comparable to level of previous years.

He said that in Afghanistan itself, potential opium production fell to 3,600 tons in 2010 but resurged to 5,800 tons in 2011. According to World Bank, the drug business has grown to 27 per cent of national GDP in Afghanistan, he added.

The Interior ministers and higher officials from India, Iran, Turkey, Russian Federation, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrghis Republic, Turkmenistan and representatives of UNODC attended the conference.

Earlier, Malik and Turkish Minister for Interior Idris Naim Sahin held a meeting and vowed to continue efforts to boost bilateral cooperation, especially in area of anti-narcotics campaign.

The Turkish minister appreciated the efforts of Pakistani government for holding a ministerial conference on counter-narcotics, saying that the two countries enjoyed strong brotherly ties which would be further cemented in the days to come.

Updated Nov 13, 2012 06:15pm

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