07 February, 2015
Pakistan and Afghanistan are working together to fight terrorism and increase security along their common border. Experts hope this kind of cooperation will lead to more effective efforts against the drug trade.
Many nations have worked together to fight illegal drug production in Afghanistan. But the United Nations recently reported another increase in the amount of Afghan land used to grow opium poppy plants. Drug dealers use poppy plants to make the drug opium.
Pakistani officials are concerned about both the increase in Afghan drugs and plans to withdraw most NATO forces from Afghanistan. The officials say the two developments make it difficult for them to fight the drug trade.
Major General Khawar Hanif is the head of Pakistan's Anti-Narcotics Force. He says the international community must continue working together to fight the Afghan drug problem. He spoke at a recent international conference in Islamabad.
"Thankfully, the commitment of the present Afghan government with respect to border control arrangements and counter-narcotic efforts is quite palpable. However, we believe that unless there is a whole-hearted support from the international community proportionate to the drug problem, the region is going to remain in the same crisis. Abandoning our Afghan colleagues to deal with this overwhelming poppy cultivation and drug production is not an option at all."
Pakistan shares a 2,500-kilometer border with Afghanistan. Most of it is unguarded. General Hanif says the largely open territory makes it difficult for Pakistan to stop terrorism and drug trafficking.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have exchanged high-level military officials. The exchanges are part of joint efforts to improve security and deal with militants involved in attacks on both sides of the border.
Cesar Guedes is the representative for the UN anti-drug office in Pakistan. He says joint efforts are needed to fight the drug trade in the area.
"I think that is the key element for success in combating drugs trafficking in this part of the world. The main producing country plus the main transit country need to strengthen their efforts effectively, very professionally and with all the sectors in both countries joining efforts to tackle this regional problem."
Mr. Guedes says illegal drugs from Afghanistan are commonly sold in Europe. He says the drugs are often shipped through Pakistan.
"It's approximately 45 to 50 percent of the opiates produced in Afghanistan that use Pakistan as a preferred stepping-stone on, onwards (to) international market. Then, about 30 percent goes via the Islamic Republic of Iran and the balance -- 20-something percent via the central Asian republics onwards to Russia and Europe."
Pakistani officials say the increased production of Afghan drugs has also led to an increase in drug use among Pakistanis.
I'm Jim Tedder.
This report was based on a story from Correspondent Ayaz Gul in Islamabad. Christopher Cruise wrote the story in VOA Learning English. The editor was George Grow.
Words in This Story
palpable – adj. obvious and noticeable
proportionate to – adj. having a size, number, or amount that is directly related to or appropriate for something (sometimes: "proportional")
cultivation/cultivate – v. to grow and care for (plants)
key – adj. extremely important
sector – n. an area for which someone (such as a military commander) is responsible
tackle – v. to deal with (something difficult)
prefer(red) – v. to like (someone or something) better than someone or something else
stepping stone – n. something that helps you get or achieve something
via – preposition by going through (a particular place); by way of (a particular place)
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