Afghanistan's Minister of Counter Narcotics Zarar Ahmad Moqbil (L), Pakistani Minister for Narcotics Control Arbab Muhammad Zahir (C) and Secretary General of Iran's Drug Control Headquarters Mostafa Mohammad Najjar (R) address a joint presse conference after the triangular annual meeting on drug control in Islamabad. – AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan and Pakistan on Thursday agreed to carry out joint operations to crack down on drug trafficking, following talks with Iran and UN officials in Islamabad.

Afghanistan produces about 90 percent of the world’s opium, much of it smuggled through Pakistan and Iran, in an industry estimated to be worth almost three billion dollars a year, which helps fund the Taliban-led insurgency.

The announcement followed a meeting between Pakistan’s counter-narcotics minister Arbab Mohammad Zahir and his Afghan counterpart Zarar Ahmad Muqbel Osmani.

Publishing a 12-point declaration after the meeting, the UN office on Drugs and Crime said enhancing operations would encourage “the first simultaneous operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan as soon as possible”.

Officials said the idea was to conduct joint operations every two months but were unable to say exactly when they would begin. Pakistan and Afghanistan already carry out separate operations with Iran.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are characterised by mutual suspicion, although ties between the two governments have recently improved.

Taliban insurgents fighting for nine years against the Western-backed Kabul government have rear bases in Pakistan, where Afghan and US officials say their leaders enjoy at least some measure of protection from Pakistan.

Pakistan flatly denies any collusion and says more than 2,420 of its soldiers have been killed fighting militants since 2002.

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