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President addresses inaugural session of Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter Narcotics

Islamabad, November 13, 2012 (PPI-OT): President Asif Ali Zardari today called for creating a regional mechanism for the exchange of information and coordination and to establish a drug court in the region to fight illicit drug trade. He proposed that the concerned offices should maintain real time contact, like a hotline amongst the heads of narcotics control agencies, for better coordination in dealing with illicit drug trafficking.

Addressing the inaugural session of Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter Narcotics here at Aiwan-e-Sadr today, the President said that merchants of death do not recognize any boundaries – political, geographical, ethical, or legal—and were destroying the youth, no matter what passport they possess.

The President said that efforts against nacro-trade cannot succeed unless we succeed together. “We will conquer the heroin trade only through collective action” the President said.

He said that heroin trade does not flourish in vacuum. It is linked with the terrorist networks in our region. The President said that the money from the heroin trade is used to finance terror operations. According to the UN, he said, the opium production has increased by over 3000 percent in the last decade and the revenues from heroin trade have also been steadily rising during the past decade. But, the President continued, the problem is much older and goes farther back in history, farther than 2001. He said that it goes back to choices we made during the decades of 70s and 80s.

That was the time, he said, when heroin was created as a war weapon by the world community to fight the rival ideology in the region. After the war, the international community left the region in a hurry. Many things of that era have now come back to haunt us. One of these is the heroin trade, the President remarked.

According to prepared text of President’s Speech, he said that illicit drug trade is now challenging our very foundations and poses a serious threat to all countries in the region. He said that drug mafias have a nexus with terrorist organizations and crime syndicates.

They are linked with arms smuggling, human trafficking and money-laundering. The President said that heroin trade has grown across borders and is spreading death and destruction in the name of ideology. “It is threatening the security of our countries”, the President said.

He said that drugs trade threatens to destroy the national economies by corrupting legitimate businesses, increasing inflation and destabilizing interest and exchange rates. It undermines good governance by encouraging crime and corruption. It promotes violence, he continued.

The President said that the heroin trade threatens us more than it threatens far-off lands and we must not look toward others for leadership on this issue. Instead of being followers, the President said, we must lead the fight against heroin trade. We must be the one to fight back and we must win this battle. Failure, the President said, is no option.

On this occasion, the President also recounted various measures taken against narco-trade and said that Pakistan has accorded high priority to efforts aimed at fighting illicit drugs. He said that at the policy level, we have made a new National Anti-Narcotics Policy in 2010, a 5-year Drug Abuse Control Master Plan, and have created an Inter-Agency Task Force on Narcotics Control. As a result, the President observed, Pakistan became Poppy Free Country in 2011. He said that today Pakistan is among the top countries in terms of seizures of opium and heroin.

Reiterating that narcotics challenge transcends national boundaries, the President said that no individual country or organization can overcome it single-handedly. We must reach across borders and must address demand, supply and trafficking of illicit drugs, he said. We also need to develop alternative livelihood for farmers, the President urged.

He said that the challenges are indeed daunting. We have to move with a sense of urgency, the President emphasized. He said that we all have stakes in the success of this campaign. The peace and well-being of our people and the security and stability of our region depends on our success against drugs, the President said.

The President expressed the hope that the deliberations during the Conference would lay the groundwork for concrete action and a set of practical measures can be agreed.

Wishing the Conference success, the President said that he would keenly await the outcome of deliberations.

For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
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