ISLAMABAD: Counter-narcotic officials from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan began brainstorming sessions here on Tuesday to chart out measures for effectively combating the trafficking of Afghan opiates.
The thirteenth ‘Triangular Initiative’ meeting of senior officials from the three neighbouring countries will help find solutions to their common challenges by adhering to a comprehensive and balanced approach to improve the regional cooperation in countering drug trafficking, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The ‘Triangular Initiative’ was brokered in 2007 by UNODC as complementary to peace-building efforts in the region, promoting information exchange and encouraging joint field operations among the three countries against drug trafficking networks and serious operatives.
According to the latest survey of UNODC, the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan remained at very high levels despite a 20 per cent decrease compared to 2017. It said that rule of law-related challenges, such as political instability, lack of government control and security, as well as corruption had been found to be among the main drivers of illicit cultivation.
The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates will probably further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
The Triangular Initiative forum is supported by the ‘Paris Pact Initiative’ and its ‘Rainbow Strategy for Afghanistan’. Under the ‘Rainbow Strategy’, new areas of cooperation include addressing the challenge of drug trafficking at sea through maritime cooperation between Iran and Pakistan, and establish and strengthen container control units operating in key sea and dry ports in the three countries.
The Pakistani delegation to the regional meeting was led by Anti-Narcotics Force Director General Maj Gen Mohammad Arif Malik, the Iranian delegation by Anti-Narcotics Police chief Brig Gen Mohammad Masoud Zabetian and the Afghan delegation by Director General of Counter Narcotics Police Maj Gen Esmatullah Baluch.
Speaking on the occasion, UNODC representative in Pakistan Cesar Guedes believed that the strengthening of regional partnership against the massive flow of illicit drugs in the region, within the framework of this strategic collaborative process, could serve as a conduit for saving lives and improving their quality.
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2018